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:


CAPS Rating

EPS Surprise
Last Qtr

Est. EPS % Growth
Current Qtr

Est. Long Term
EPS Growth

Coinstar (NASDAQ:CSTR)





Constellation Energy Partners (NYSE:CEP)





Repligen (NASDAQ:RGEN)





SciClone Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SCLN)





Source: CAPS and; NA = not available, NM = not meaningful because either estimates or earnings involve negative EPS.

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
Small pharmaceuticals make up half of our companies this week, suggesting that analysts were more bearish on this sector than usual. For Repligen, that might have been warranted since it ended up reporting in December that the pancreas imaging agent it was developing didn't meet its main goal in a late stage study. While management said it did meet other goals, investors weren't impressed and today the stock trades at 25% below where it was before the news hit. Some think it may yet recover.

SciClone Pharmaceuticals has had some recent success, but it's been much less consistent with its results. Its hepatitis C treatments have suffered setbacks but it's attempting to piggyback the Zadaxin treatment on the swine flu virus. Results from a recent study look promising because Zadaxin when used in combination with a vaccine from Novartis (NYSE:NVS) increases the body's immune response.

CAPS All-Star and biotech guru zzlangerhans admits he missed the potential for SciClone because of the mass hysteria surrounding swine flu, but upon closer inspection this one looks real.

As with other biotechs, I got turned upside down on this one when they grabbed the coattails of H1N1 and rode to 5 [dollars per share]. Now that the hysteria is over, it seems the drop is a little too steep considering that Zadaxin revenues are 17M and rising. Cash is a little shaky but since they have been breaking even the last couple of quarters this is unlikely to become an issue in 2010. The pipeline has been disappointing to say the least, but positive data from the phase II trial of SCV-07 in oral mucositis could propel the stock upward significantly at these prices.

Reel to reel
Movie rental star Coinstar has been able to confound the professional analyst community by showing surprising strength in its kiosk business model. Unlike Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), which agreed to a studio embargo on new releases from Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), Coinstar instead chose to take many studios to court for the right to get new movies on their "street date," the day they're released to retailers for sale.

The CAPS community has caught on, like emptygestures who prefers Coinstar's Redbox kiosks to the competition.

Take this over blockbuster and netflix any day of the week. I added it to my portfolio because once blockbuster goes bankrupt, they will conquer the non-online video business. I don't trust netflix and how it treats its customers.

Care to preview your opinion? Share them on the Coinstar CAPS page and tell us if you think this big screen star will continue to see its name up in lights.

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.