3 Reasons Not to Worry This Week

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In news that's so sadly amusing that it can't be made up, the two highest grossing films at the box office this past weekend were The Help and The Debt.

Really, Tinseltown? Are you just titling celluloid based on what's on our minds at the moment? If so, well-played and please do pass the popcorn.

Wall Street is also marquee-ready for the gloom and doom.

There are still plenty of companies posting lower earnings than they did a year ago. Let's go over a few of the names that are expected to go the wrong way on the bottom line next week.

Company

Latest Quarter EPS (estimated)

Year-Ago Quarter EPS

My

Watchlist

Best Buy (NYS: BBY)

$0.53

$0.60

Add

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (NAS: CBRL)

$0.96

$1.14

Add

Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM)

$0.87

$1.46

Add

Source: Thomson Reuters.

Clearing the table
Let's start at the top with Best Buy.

Remember when Circuit City announced its liquidation two years ago? Best Buy investors were licking their chops, assuming that the Circuit City-less shoppers would flock to good old Blue and Yellow.

Well, that may have been the case at first, but it seems as if many Circuit City customers are simply doing a lot more shopping online -- and taking Best Buy loyalists with them.

After three consecutive quarters of year-over-year dips in earnings and comparable-store sales, Best Buy isn't likely to get a break now.

Smaller rival Conn's (NAS: CONN) surged on Wednesday after posting better than expected results, but the models are different. Conn's specializes in appliances, mattresses, and furniture that aren't easy sells in cyberspace where heavy lifting isn't subsidized. Conn's is also emphasizing rent-to-own programs that e-tailers could never oversee effectively.

However, even Conn's isn't doing all that well if we go by the 13.5% drop in sales during the quarter.

Then we have Cracker Barrel, the chain of eateries with attached throwback gift shops that just happen to conveniently dot many interstate exits on well-traveled highways.

Biglari Holdings' (NYS: BH) Sardar Biglari has amassed a 9.3% stake in the company, and he's starting to get hungry. Biglari has been trying to get Cracker Barrel to separate the financial performance of the chain's restaurants from its gift shops. What's Biglari's endgame? As an activist investor, he may simply be trying to shake things up until a buyout arrives at a higher price point, though Cracker Barrel's earnings going the wrong way Tuesday won't help.

Then we have Research In Motion, the company that was on top of the world with its BlackBerry handsets until Apple (NAS: AAPL) and Google (NAS: GOOG) hit it from both ends. Apple is cornering the high-end market, while Google's open Android platform has become the mainstream smartphone of choice.

RIM had been growing despite this tricky climate for several quarters, but this is always a lagging indicator. Folks are tied to two-year contracts, and way too many BlackBerry owners are fleeing to Android or iPhone devices when that moment arrives.

Why the long face, short-seller?
These three companies have seen better days. The market has rewarded many of these stocks with reasonable gains over the past year, but they still haven't earned those upticks.

The good news here is that Wall Street already expects these companies to deliver shrinking bottom lines. In other words, the bad news is already baked into the shares.

The more I think about it, the less worried I become.

How do you think these stocks will fare when they report next week? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

At the time this article was published Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story except for Cracker Barrel. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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