Why 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 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 American Science & Engineering (NASDAQ:ASEI). The maker of security screening equipment saw earnings soar 73% to $0.83 a share. Wall Street was looking for a profit of only $0.70 a share.

With a healthy backlog of orders, the fun appears to be just beginning for the Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. That may explain why the stock hit a fresh 52-week high on Friday, at a time when most of the market is quite weak.

SINA (NASDAQ:SINA) also beat the pros. China's new media giant delivered a 40% spurt in adjusted profitability to $0.44 a share, just ahead of the $0.41 a share that the market was expecting. It follows market-thumping quarterly results put out in recent weeks by dot-com peers Sohu.com (NASDAQ:SOHU) and Baidu.com (NASDAQ:BIDU).

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ:GMCR) is another topper. Fiscal fourth-quarter net income at the java junkie roughly doubled to $0.28 a share. Mr. Market poured his cup of Joe at the $0.21-a-share mark.

Unlike battered barista-brewing joints like Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and Caribou Coffee (NASDAQ:CBOU), Green Mountain excels at marketing its premium roasts for home consumption. Back in June, when I recommended that investors throw away their shares of Starbucks, Green Mountain was one of the stocks I suggested to take its place. My suggestion still makes sense, as Green Mountain will continue to do well as folks sidestep the $5 coffees on the way to work and invest in K-cup home-brewing systems instead.

So, keep watching the companies that top 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.

Starbucks is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Baidu.com and American Science & Engineering are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. SINA and Starbucks are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of toppers. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.