Why settle for ordinary quarterly reports?

I believe that trumping the analysts is the biggest contributor to a stock's outperformance. Leaving Wall Street's pros with quizzical looks usually means that the companies they lowballed have something left in the tank, and capital appreciation often follows. That's why I look every week at a few companies that recently beat market expectations. Let's examine three of them. 

We can start with Black & Decker (NYSE:BDK). The workbench master posted a third-quarter profit of $1.42 a share. That's less than the $1.59  the company earned a year ago, but the more recent figure includes a $0.21-per-share restructuring charge. Either way, Mr. Market was looking for net income of only $1.29 a share.

Baidu.com (NASDAQ:BIDU) was another topper. China's leading search engine followed the analyst-thumping example that global leader Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) set a week earlier. Baidu saw its quarterly net income soar 91% to $1.47 a share, well ahead of the $1.28 that Wall Street was targeting.

This news naturally bodes well for other Chinese Internet stocks such as Sohu.com (NASDAQ:SOHU) and SINA (NASDAQ:SINA). Growth-stock investors who've been burned by stateside companies' bleak holiday guidance can take heart. There are plenty of opportunities in China, where the economy --- for now -- is holding up relatively better.

Finally, biotech giant Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) is breaking through. Wall Street expected the company to earn $1.08 a share, flat with last year's showing. Instead, the drug maker delivered a profit of $1.23 a share.

The market is warming up to Amgen again. Despite Wall Street's general malaise, shares of Amgen have risen by 46% since bottoming out back in March.

Keep watching the companies that lap expectations. Over time, it 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.

Either way, come back next Monday to learn about more stocks that blew the market away.