Don't settle for ordinary quarterly reports.

If a stock can beat the market's expectations, I believe it has a great chance to beat the market, too. Each week, I spotlight three companies that topped analysts' predictions. Leaving Wall Street's pros with stunned expressions can be a good thing. It usually means that the companies have more in the tank than analysts figured, and capital appreciation typically follows.

Let's take a look at a few companies that humbled the prognosticators over the past few trading days.

We can start with Hasbro (NYSE: HAS). The toymaker didn't have to whip out the Sorry! board after posting a quarterly profit of $0.26 a share before a positive tax adjustment. Analysts were settling for just $0.16 a share on the bottom line. With rival Mattel also delivering better-than-expected results a week earlier, this news bodes well for the toy industry.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) is another winner. Earnings at the quick-service restaurant chain soared 49% to $1.19 a share in the first quarter, well ahead of Wall Street's $0.95-a-share target.

Analysts never seem to realize that the burrito baron routinely sets the bar low. Chipotle even had the audacity to project flat comps this year -- even though it has routinely posted positive store-level growth during the recession. I knew it was lying. Comps climbed 4.3% during the quarter, and it's now projecting a store-level gain in the mid-single-digits for 2010.

Knowing Chipotle, it may be lowballing again. Just check out how it's zoomed past the pros over the past year alone:

Time Period

Est. EPS



Q2 2009




Q3 2009




Q4 2009




Q1 2010




Source: Yahoo! Finance.

It's practically a no-brainer. Eateries with a reputation for high-quality food will be big winners during the recovery. Chipotle and Cheesecake Factory obliterated estimates last week. It's a fair wager that Panera Bread will follow suit this week.

Finally, we have Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) making the grade. A ton of iPhones, Macs, and iPods translated into a profit of $3.33 a share. Mr. Market was perched at $2.45 a share. I'd include a Chipotle-esque table of Apple's history of beating analyst marks, but it would be too long. Apple has landed ahead of Wall Street on a quarterly basis for years now.

It's important to keep watching the companies that surpass expectations. Over time, it will be a profitable experience for investors, as the market rewards the overachievers. That's the kind of surprise we look for in the Rule Breakers newsletter service. Want in? Check out a 30-day trial subscription.

Either way, come back next Monday to learn about more stocks that blew the market away.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation and a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Apple and Hasbro are Motley Fool Stock Advisor choices. The Fool owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill and Hasbro. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of toppers. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this column, except for Cheesecake Factory. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.