In these heady economic times, Mr. Market seems to enjoy dogpiling on any stock that dares to fall short of analysts' estimates. To defy that trend, we're here to celebrate stocks that didn't merely meet Wall Street's predictions, but laughed in analysts' faces by leaving their miserly forecasts in the dust. The companies below have all soundly trounced earnings estimates by 20% or more in the last quarter:

Company

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

EPS Surprise

Estimated EPS % Growth, Current Quarter

Estimated Long-Term Growth

Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX)

*

NC

67%

17%

Eagle Bulk Shipping (NASDAQ:EGLE)

*****

100%

(99%)

(28%)

Excel Maritime (NYSE:EXM)

*****

2600%

(99%)

0%

Fuqi International (NASDAQ:FUQI)

****

62%

30%

28%

Novatel Wireless (NASDAQ:NVTL)

***

45%

NC

5%

Source: Zacks.com; NC=not calculable. CROX earned $0.01 last quarter vs. an estimated $0.08 loss; NVTL is expected to earn $0.08 this quarter compared with a $0.10 loss last year.

Nonetheless, beating estimates isn't enough to make a stock a winner. Analysts are notoriously lousy at forecasting results, and one-time items can sometimes push earnings over the top. Wall Street professionals typically don't include such extraordinary events in their forecasts.

Rather than focus only on the past, we'll check on whether analysts have a bead on future performance. With help from Motley Fool CAPS, we'll see which of the top companies listed above will have the last laugh.

The joke's on them
A surprising jobs report caused the dollar to strengthen and gold to stall, but many analysts still see the precious metal as cheap, even at $1,200 an ounce. You won't find Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) arguing that point, either. It recently announced that, having finally shed the last of its fixed-price hedge book, it can begin to exploit rising gold prices.

A new round of strength for gold should also help out Fuqi International, the Chinese jewelry maker that ought to benefit from increasing precious metal values. The company contends that China's jewelry industry has grown at a 10% compounded rate since the 1980s, and next year will achieve a watershed event when China becomes the world's largest jewelry market. With the country's economy growing by 9% in the third quarter, Fuqi represents a play on the continued growth of China's middle class.

Fuqi says young Chinese have bought into Western consumerism more than their older counterparts have, and are more easily lured by flash and glitz. That gives the company a target demographic to build its growing business around, and bolsters the CAPS member wi1mes' argument that Fuqi will outperform the market: "The Chinese have a long history of cherishing gold jewelry and of displaying their wealth. As more Chinese gain more wealth they will spend increasing amounts on precious metal jewelry."

The jewelry maker has attracted the attention of nearly 400 CAPS members, 95% of whom believe it will outperform the market. Display your own bling on Fuqi's CAPS page, and let us know whether you think this is a golden opportunity for the company.

Chuckles the Clown
Faddish-shoe maker Crocs faces a trademark-infringement lawsuit from luxury-sports-car manufacturer Porsche, because it named one of its plastic shoes the Cayman, the same as one of the carmaker's two-seat models. Somehow, I don't think many will confuse the shoe with the car, or even that Porsche might be partnering with the shoemaker. Besides, the islands of the same name are on the phone, and they're saying the automaker's lackluster sales this year are giving them a bad rep.

If Crocs is able to get under Porsche's skin, then maybe the shoemaker will be able to realize its monster potential once again. It turned in back-to-back profitable quarters, though third-quarter results did pop a hole in the company's stock bubble. Even as it beat estimates, analysts were pointing out that many of the gains were predicated on one-time revenue enhancements, and fourth-quarter guidance suggested that it would return to its money-losing ways.

CAPS member PhilLabrasca "applauds (Crocs') attempt" at product diversification. Deckers Outdoor (NASDAQ:DECK) did the same thing by having a sandal and walking-shoe line in addition to its famed Uggs boots. But unlike the sheepskin boots, PhilLabrasca doesn't see Crocs' main plastic shoe growing much further: "Their main product is no longer in the growth stage, and the only thing that will save them is a genius marketing ploy. It's so hard for me to simply go short on a stock based on their product, since they ARE cutting costs, but I have to remain short on this one."

Yukking it up
The market's rally has changed from being mostly fueled by low-quality stocks to dragging most others along based on lower year-over-year comparables. If you think there's some funny business afoot, let us know -- head over to Motley Fool CAPS and sound off.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey has no financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.