I believe that the biggest factor in a stock's ability to beat the market is its ability to beat the market's expectations. That's why I look every week at three companies that have humbled Wall Street's pros over the past few trading days. If a company has more in the tank than the analysts figured, capital appreciation often follows.
We can start with Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO ) . The networking-equipment giant posted a profit of $0.42 a share on a non-GAAP basis for its fiscal third quarter, well ahead of both the $0.30 it generated a year ago and the $0.38 that Wall Street was targeting. The quarter included an extra week, but analysts already knew that in preparing their profit models.
Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI ) also barreled past the pros. The organic supermarket chain saw its quarterly profits more than double to $0.39 a share. Analysts were settling for net income of $0.33. The upscale grocer struggled during the darkest stretches of the recession, but Whole Foods has now rebounded with back-to-back quarters of positive comps.
Finally, we have Disney (NYSE: DIS ) . The family-entertainment provider's adjusted earnings rose by 12% to $0.48 a share. Mr. Market figured that Disney would earn just $0.46 a share for its fiscal second quarter. It was a great quarter for the media moguls, as Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) , Viacom, Discovery Communications, and News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA ) all landed ahead of the prognosticators during the same three months.
Keep watching the companies that surpass expectations. Over time, doing so will be a rewarding 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.
And come back next Monday to learn about more stocks that blew the market away.