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, 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

Est. EPS % Growth, Current Quarter

Est. Long-Term Growth

Human Genome Sciences (Nasdaq: HGSI)





Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM)





SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK)










Vivus (Nasdaq: VVUS)






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 us
Flash memory card maker SanDisk surged at the end of last year, as consumer electronics became one of the highlights of the Christmas shopping season. That success positioned the company as a top stock choice for 2010. Last month, the company reassured analysts that NAND flash demand wasn't slowing down; SanDisk increased its first-quarter sales forecast to as much as $1 billion.

The company's also shipping out a new flash-based solid-state drive that targets both consumers and IT departments. But no one's certain how much market share it can steal away from by more enterprise-focused players like STEC (Nasdaq: STEC). The SSD landscape is getting more competitive, with Seagate (Nasdaq: STX) and other hard-drive giants getting into the mix. But with SanDisk's bread-and-butter NAND enjoying better pricing this quarter, CAPS member WECpoker thinks the leading memory card maker is still undervalued:

Was sitting on the $31 March Calls when this company moved their guidance higher over the weekend. Even with nice jump Monday, this stock has momentum AND is undervalued IMO at current 2010 Estimates (which have been rising frequently).

Biotech's got the last laugh
Human Genome Sciences didn't pour any rocket fuel on its share price after its fourth-quarter results. It got a much warmer reception last July, after announcing that its treatment for lupus, Benlysta, in development with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), passed an important phase 3 milestone. Still, HGS ably surpassed analyst expectations in its latest quarter, and it plans to submit Benlysta to the FDA for approval in the second quarter.

With the market perhaps already pricing Benlysta approval into HGS's stock price, the next growth lever -- or risk factor, depending on how you look at it -- will be the FDA's decision on its hepatitis C therapy Zalbin, which it's developing with Novartis. The agency's ruling should arrive by October.

CAPS member airenInDebt believes that Benlysta will be a blockbuster drug for HGS -- potentially the first new lupus treatment to hit the market in 50 years. However, All-Star greenwave3 doesn't think much of HGS's remaining pipeline:

Too little value on the books, too many liabilities for a takeout. No other pharma company is going to shell out $5 billion for a limited pipeline and practically no revenue stream.

Benlysta will undoubtedly change how much money gets poured into the company's coffers. Let us know on the Human Genome Sciences CAPS page how big a game-changer the drug's approval could be.

A few more chuckles
Last quarter wasn't exactly pedal-to-the-metal time for Vivus. Its losses nearly doubled to more than $13 million, though that effort still beat the Street's expectations. The company had a tough year-over-year comparison this time around, since revenue last year got a boost from deferred licensing revenue from the sale of its drug Evamist.

CAPS member ctesta30 says that with First Lady Michelle Obama putting childhood obesity front and center, Vivus' obesity treatment Qnexa could enjoy a cozy advantage:

childhood obesity is becoming a big deal; Lady Obama has this on her agenda; study out today regarding obesity with 3 year olds; VVUS has drug that FDA is looking favorably toward.

Gold mining specialist Newmont Mining, in contrast, has been keeping its foot on the accelerator. Sales continue to grow, and earnings doubled in the third quarter while quadrupling in the fourth. However, analysts anticipate that growth will slow down throughout the year.

CAPS members expect Newmont to continue outpacing the market, with 92% of the 969 members who've rated the gold miner giving it a big thumbs-up.

Yukking it up
The market's rally, once mostly fueled by low-quality stocks, is now dragging most other equities along, thanks to 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.

Novartis AG is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. The Fool owns shares of GlaxoSmithKline. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services 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.