Every week, I take a look at a few companies that lapped their profit targets. Leaving Wall Street's pros with quizzical looks on their faces can be a good thing. It usually means that the companies have more in the tank than analysts figured, and capital appreciation often follows.
Let's take a look at a few companies that humbled the prognosticators over the past few trading days.
We can start with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) . The dot-com bellwether hit it out of the park on Thursday with a blowout first-quarter report. The world's leading search engine posted a profit of $4.84 a share for the quarter, comfortably ahead of the $4.52-a-share showing that cynical analysts were expecting. The news sets the bar high for tomorrow's quarterly report from Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , and Thursday's Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU ) call.
It was the perfect setup. Wall Street had been talking down the company's prospects in recent months. The company had missed profit targets in two of the previous three quarters. Third-party research firms like ComScore (Nasdaq: SCOR ) were reporting gloomy online advertising trends.
Well, Google showed 'em all. It also turned the tables on ComScore, which was one of the few tech stocks to fall on Friday. I guess the market is now questioning the quality of its research, though in ComScore's defense, the data was limited to domestic Google.com traffic.
Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG ) also came armed for action. The company behind the revolutionary da Vinci surgical robotic arms earned $1.12 a share in its latest quarter. The pros were perched at the $0.98-a-share mark, but they're used to falling behind. Intuitive Surgical has topped guesstimates for 22 consecutive quarters.
Investors have gotten so used to Intuitive's winning streak that they actually sent the shares lower on the news, spoiled by the company's habit of trouncing expectations by wider margins in the past.
Finally, eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) bid its profits higher. The online-marketplace giant earned an adjusted $0.42 a share during the first quarter. The market expected a profit of just $0.39 a share. Investors may worry about a slowdown at the company's namesake site, but faster-growing verbs like PayPal and Skype in the eBay family tree are helping to offset some of that sting.
So keep watching the companies that lap expectations. Over time, it may be a profitable experience for investors, as the market rewards the overachievers. That's the kind of surprise we look for in the Rule Breakers newsletter service. Want in? Check out a 30-day trial subscription.
Either way, come back next Monday to learn about more stocks that blew the market away.