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 puzzled looks on their faces can be a good thing. It usually means that the companies have more in the tank than analysts figured. 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 Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN). Shares of the world's leading online retailer soared 27% on Friday, after the e-tailer obliterated Wall Street predictions. The pros expected third-quarter earnings to rise 22%. Instead, Amazon.com's net income catapulted 68% higher, to $0.45 a share.

T. Rowe Price (NASDAQ:TROW) also made out nicely. The mutual fund giant posted a profit of $0.50 a share, comfortably ahead of analyst estimates of $0.46 a share. It's true that T. Rowe Price earned more a year ago, but the fund operator feels that the worst is behind it; it grew its asset base nicely during the quarter's rally. T. Rowe's showing was a welcome surprise after rival Janus Capital Group (NYSE:JNS) simply met expectations a day earlier.

Finally, we have Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) checking in higher. The company's quarterly profit of $0.13 a share -- or $0.15 a share on a non-GAAP basis -- blew past Mr. Market's best guess of $0.07 a share. The online advertising market may not be hitting on all cylinders, but it bears pointing out that its three largest players -- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo!, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) -- all surpassed Wall Street's bottom-line projections.

So keep watching the companies that surpass expectations. Over time, it will be a profitable experience for investors, as the market rewards the overachievers. That's the kind of surprise we look for in the Motley Fool 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.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Amazon.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of toppers. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this column. 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.