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 Quarter

Est. Long-Term
Growth

3Com (NASDAQ:COMS)

**

29%

(39%)

10%

CarMax (NYSE:KMX)

***

106%

41%

16%

Micron Technology (NYSE:MU)

***

229%

122%

13%

Navistar International (NYSE:NAV)

**

31%

82%

11%

OmniVision Technologies (NASDAQ:OVTI)

***

69%

179%

10%

Source: Zacks.com. EPS = earnings per share.

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
Is the big picture for OmniVision Technologies about to get a whole lot clearer? If Taipei-based DigiTimes is to be believed, OmniVision's orders for CMOS image sensors for the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone will double next year to as many as 45 million units. Some commentators note that the Taiwanese newspaper has had a dubious track record with its predictions regarding Apple developments, but more recent history suggests it may have gotten its predictions back on track.

With Apple typically unveiling a new iPhone in the summer, the stars seem to be aligned for OmniVision's anticipation of these orders to hit the books in the second half of the year. Including iPod sales, OmniVision has shipped 65 million CIS units to Apple, no doubt playing a large part in how the chip maker was able to turn a second-quarter 2009 loss of $5.3 million into an $8.1 million profit this year.

The CAPS community believes OmniVision is poised for growth, with 94% of those rating the chip maker believing it will outperform the market. tomorbeck frames the chance through additional market opportunities.

Expanding markets (notebooks, auto, security, medical, entertainment) plus image sensor market in transition to new formats/features with OVTI in leading the way.Has potential to be huge in next 1-3 years.

Dynamic markets are no still life, so I recommend heading over to the OmniVision Technologies CAPS page and posting your opinion on whether its future is out of focus.

Chuckles the clown
Another chip maker making moves is Micron Technology, which was finally able to bury the price war it's been fighting. As average selling prices for computer-standard DRAM memory chips rose 8% sequentially, the technology leader booked fourth-quarter profits of $0.23 a share, much better than the $0.93 loss it reported a year ago. Revenues are also on the rise and investors have bid up its shares almost 300% year to date.

Micron's not alone in the good fortune it's seen lately. SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK) is another memory maker whose shares have soared sharply higher as the tech sector recovers its winning ways. In fact, the entire CAPS Semiconductor and Semiconductor Equipment sector has witnessed a doubling in value over the past year. CAPS member AzUKHiker sees further growth ahead based on higher guidance for Micron's earnings.

Last year I rated the memory chip maker to outperform in my CAPS portfolio, during which time the stock rose 85% compared to a 7% decline in the S&P 500. I think you'll make a lasting impression if you head over to the Micron Technology CAPS page and join me in recording your opinions for posterity.

Yucking 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.

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. CarMax is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey 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.