Don't settle for ordinary quarterly reports.

Every week, I take a look at three companies that beat market expectations, since I believe that it's the biggest factor in a stock beating the market. Leaving Wall Street's pros with stunned expressions can be a good thing. It usually means that the companies have more in the tank than analysts figured. Capital appreciation typically follows.

Let's take a look at a few companies that humbled the pros over the past few trading days.

We can start with Ciena (NYSE:CIEN)The optical networking solutions provider was supposed to post a small loss in its latest quarter, but the shares closed out the week hitting a fresh 52-week high after surprising investors with a modest profit of $0.02 a share. With revenue growing and gross margins widening, Ciena is sneaking up on naysayers who figured that optical networking wasn't anywhere close to staging a turnaround. Ciena's rosy near-term outlook is also encouraging, with its revenue target for the current quarter perched well above what analysts were forecasting.

It wasn't a surprise to see Ciena's stock soar 18% higher on the week after its impressive report.

Bazaarvoice (NASDAQ:BV) was another big winner, soaring 27% higher on the week after posting better-than-expected financial results. Bazaarvoice's adjusted net loss of $0.12 a share was slightly better than the $0.13 a share in red ink that the pros were projecting.

Bazaarvoice gives brands and retailers the ability to act on social online data, but it's been a harder sell for investors. Even after last week's pop, the stock is trading well below last year's IPO of $12 a share. It's a shame because Bazaarvoice's popularity as a platform is growing. Revenue has climbed 38% over the past year. Bazaarvoice has also beaten Wall Street's bottom-line estimates every single quarter since going public.

Finally, we have Hovnanian (NYSE:HOV) taking a page out of the Ciena playbook by posting a small profit when the market was bracing itself for a quarterly deficit. The homebuilder's return to profitability comes after posting back-to-back quarterly losses.

Hovnanian is benefiting from the welcome tailwinds currently aiding the housing industry. It's been able to raise prices -- new contracts for homes during the quarter rose 10%, but the value of those deals spiked 22% -- as low mortgage rates and an improving economy are turning renters into buyers again.

Moving in the right direction
It's important to keep watching the companies that surpass expectations. Over time, it will be a lucrative experience for investors as the market rewards the overachievers. That's the kind of surprise that we look for in the Rule Breakers newsletter service. Want in? Check out a 30-day trial subscription.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.