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Don't settle for ordinary quarterly reports.
I look at three companies that beat market expectations every week, 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 prognosticators over the past few trading days.
We can start with Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG ) . The operating-room robotics specialist earned $2.14 a share in its latest quarter, ahead of both the $1.64 a share it rang up a year ago and the $2.10 a share that analysts expected.
Sales growth for its da Vinci surgical arms has flatlined sequentially in recent quarters, but the larger installed base still means more money for Intuitive Surgical in accessories and services.
There will naturally be concerns about medical-equipment manufacturers in an era of health-care reform, but it's worth noting that Intuitive joined Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX ) and St. Jude Medical (NYSE: STJ ) in surpassing Wall Street's profit targets last week.
VMware (NYSE: VMW ) also landed ahead of the pros. The virtualization pioneer earned an adjusted profit of $0.39 a share. The market banked on non-GAAP net income to clock in at only $0.35 a share. There are cash flow concerns, and the competition is getting smarter, but VMware is still growing nicely in this environment.
Finally, Select Comfort (Nasdaq: SCSS ) gave its investors a good night's sleep. The maker of Sleep Number mattresses earned $0.19 a share in its third quarter. Analysts stopped for a nap at the $0.16-a-share mark. They've been in Rip van Winkle mode for some time, since Select Comfort has now obliterated Wall Street's estimates for seven quarters in a row.
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.
Either way, come back next Monday to learn about more stocks that blew the market away.