Underpromise, overdeliver. That's the mantra that drives earnings surprises. For investors, the treat is especially sweet because it means that professional bean-counting analysts have underestimated a particular company's profit power. That often leads to more upside surprises in the future.

That said, let's take a closer look at a few of the companies that humbled the prognosticators this past week.

We'll start with Nike (NYSE:NKE). The company's "Just Do It" mantra seems to fit with its market-thumping results. The athletic footwear giant earned $1.61 a share when analysts were only expecting $1.42. Earnings at Nike rose by a strong 32% on an 8% gain in revenues. Growing the bottom line four times faster than the top line can be a beautiful thing. Future orders are up 11%, giving investors some degree of comfort that things will get even better over the next few quarters too.

KB Home (NYSE:KBH) was another topper. The homebuilder blew past estimates like desperate house hunters trampling across a lawn with an "Open House" sign. The company earned $2.55 a share in the fiscal third quarter when Wall Street figured it would only be good for $2.40 per share. Despite higher interest rates, buoyant real estate prices, and even disappointing new-housing-starts data, a few developers like KB seem to be doing just fine. It closed out the period with a backlog that was 47% greater than last year, and it's charging more for those homes to boot.

Earlier in the week, Lennar (NYSE:LEN) also had some favorable housing-market news. The company won't be reporting its earnings until tomorrow morning, but it did go ahead and issue a press release indicating that it, too, would be blowing away the consensus.

Palm (NASDAQ:PALM) is the third company that we're taking a closer look at today. The company produced first-quarter profits of $0.41, three pennies better than its bottom-line target. But the company's bleak near-term outlook slammed the stock on Friday. That's the catch in scouring through the market toppers for stock ideas. They need to give investors hope that they will continue to leave analysts behind in a cloud of dust. However, Palm has still produced quite the turnaround lately. Even after last week's slide, the shares are trading 29% higher than when the stock was singled out in the April issue of Motley Fool Stock Advisor.

It's not Palm's original handheld PDA products that are behind the company's resurgence. Companies like Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) and Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) are the ones making the portable gadgetry that everybody craves these days. The company's Treo smartphones -- combining its handheld computing roots with mobile communication and Web-enabling technology -- are what is fueling results higher these days.

So, keep watching the companies that lap expectations. Over time, it will be a rewarding experience for investors. That's the kind of surprise that market watchers relish in the Rule Breakers newsletter service. The strategy has paid off: The average Rule Breaker selection has more than tripled the S&P 500's market return. Want in? Check out a 30-day trial subscription.

And come back next Monday to learn about more stocks that blew the market away!

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of toppers, but he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. 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.