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

EPS Surprise

Est. EPS
% Growth Current Qtr.

Est. LT Growth

Brocade Communications (NASDAQ:BRCD)

***

50%

(30%)

13%

Force Protection (NASDAQ:FRPT)

****

109%

28%

20%

General Electric (NYSE:GE)

****

35%

(33%)

9%

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

****

22%

834%

11%

LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK)

****

NC

105%

21%

Source: Zacks.com; NC = not calculable. LDK Solar earned $0.27 last quarter vs. estimated $0.08 loss.

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 focusing only on the past, we'll check 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
We might not hear about wind energy quite so much these days, hiding somewhat in the alternative-energy shadow cast by solar stocks, but General Electric's $1.4 billion contract to supply turbines to an Oregon wind farm shows that the industry still has the wind at its back.

After what seemed like an extended lull in wind energy news, a number of developments are gusting through the industry. A-Power Energy Generation Systems (NASDAQ:APWR) recently announced it was building a factory in Texas that would produce 1,100 megawatts of turbines annually. A-Power is also involved in a joint venture with GE to produce gearbox assemblies for turbines.

Sounds like GE was listening to CAPS member sporange, who recently chided the conglomerate for not doing more in the field:

GE seems to have forgotten how to mfg.Too busy buying and selling companies to compete in the ever growing alternative energy sector.Wake up grandpa ! China is about to leave you in a cloud of dust

Yet all this development leaves me wondering whether the industry is overbuilding capacity. Although GE sees wind-power generation jumping from 3% to 12% over the next few years, China is already debating whether it has too much capacity, even though its top three plants are producing only one-third the capacity of GE, Vestas, and Gamesa.

Subsidies are apparently needed to keep wind power competitive with other forms of energy generation, but that could lead to a misallocation of resources. This sector could still generate some gale force winds of discontent.

Chuckles the Clown
Military vehicle maker Force Protection is going to have to protect its downside by operating as a smaller company. After its joint venture with General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) lost the Pentagon contract for blast-resistant off-road vehicles, the company said it will slash $40 million in costs by next year, and eliminate 10% of its workforce.

Although its vehicle-making divisions aren't fully disabled -- it's still bidding on the U.K.'s Ocelot vehicle, for example -- for the immediate future, Force Protection will largely be servicing its existing fleet of vehicles. That sits just fine with CAPS member 03civex, who believes the troop surge in Afghanistan will keep the company busy.

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.

General Dynamics and Intel are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. The Fool owns shares of Intel. Intel is a Motley Fool Options pick. 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 stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.