If you read enough business briefs these days, you'd think companies that weren't just managing to meet earnings expectations were horribly missing estimates. In fact, many companies are doing quite well, thank you very much.

We're here to celebrate those that not only beat Wall Street's predictions, but actually laugh in the face of analysts for bringing in such miserly forecasts. The companies below have all soundly trounced earnings estimates by 20% or more in the last quarter.

Company

CAPS Rating

EPS Surprise

Est. EPS

Growth Current Qtr.

Est. 5-Year Growth

CardioNet (NASDAQ:BEAT)

***

20%

(33%)

34%

Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK)

*

108%

89%

20%

STEC (NASDAQ:STEC)

**

24%

12%

50%

TASER International (NASDAQ:TASR)

***

75%

(66%)

30%

Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL)

**

122%

(2%)

8%

Source: Yahoo! Finance; NM = not meaningful; NA = not available. CAPS ratings are out of five stars.

But it's not enough just beating estimates to become a winning stock. Analysts are notoriously lousy at forecasting results, and there could be one-time items that pushed the earnings ahead -- Wall Street professionals typically don't include extraordinary events in their forecasts.

Everyone makes mistakes, so we're not going to look only at the past. We'll check whether analysts have a bead on future performance too by enlisting the help of Motley Fool CAPS, the community intelligence tool for rating both stocks and the stock pickers. With CAPS, we'll see which of these top companies will have the last laugh.

The joke's on them
It was enough to surely make Jim Cramer smile. When an analyst suggested solid-state drive maker STEC faced "continued downward pressure" because of rising competition, its stock dropped sharply. But less than a week later the same analyst said the "evolving competitive landscape" didn't mean the stock should have tanked the way it did and she was raising her own earnings estimates for the third and fourth quarters.

CAPS member dripac derides what he sees as manipulative comments by an analyst, but investors might want to welcome the chance to get STEC shares at discounted prices. The stock is trading more than 10% below where it was the day after it released its Street-beating report.

That's not to say that STEC doesn't face tough competition. While its ZeusIOPS drive has been a barn burner lately, both Pliant Technology and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) want to nose in on STEC's business and market share. As highly rated CAPS All-Star ACMIP further points out, a combination of competition and an apparent lack of management confidence means STEC is destined to underperform:

I am not sure I have ever seen a management team unload as much stock as STEC's did recently...Wow! How this stock hasn't collapsed yet is beyond me...

Anyhow, at some point I think the combination of STEC's ludicrous valuation coupled with the onslaught of competition coming their way (which btw will almost certainly compete away any of the excess profits it is currently generating) should cause investors to place a much more rational valuation of this business. Underperform.

Yucking it up
At the other end of the spectrum is CardioNet, which got beat up because it slashed its own earnings outlook for the year. It sliced guidance by more than 50% due to reimbursement rates for its heart-monitoring devices being lower than expected while sales volume weren't living up to expectations.

CAPS member MrHappyFinance thinks CardioNet still has a pulse, though, and might make an interesting acquisition target for a larger rival, while BetapegLLC finds it has exhibited "extremely high growth potential in a healthcare sector expected to grow substantially."

Yet Medicare confirmed that it was cutting reimbursement rates by a third earlier this month, and the medical device maker admits that's going to significantly impact operations. It might trade at tantalizingly low valuations across a number of metrics now as Betapeg asserts, but other medical instrument suppliers offer a similarly attractive profile. Cantel Medical (NYSE:CMN), for example, trades at a better multiple on next year's earnings and offers a discount compared to CardioNet on sales.

I'd agree that CardioNet might make a better takeover candidate -- if a buyer could be found for a business with an uphill Medicare battle and diminishing sales.

Foolish takeaway
A lot of the market's rally thus far has been fueled by low-quality stocks. Got a different take on STEC or CardioNet? If you think there's some funny business afoot, let us know by heading over to Motley Fool CAPS and sounding off.

Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services today, free for 30 days.Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Intel but does not have a financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.