Making market predictions isn't supposed to require a Master's of Fine Arts in creative writing, but bean counters manage to make an art of it. That's why Wall Street is totally stumped when a company leaves it gasping at projections that fall way short of reality. Investors need to sit up and take notice -- something exciting may be happening at a company that's doing far better than the market mavens had given it credit for.

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 Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The world's largest software company was able to earn more than the market had expected for the September quarter. OK, so it "beat the Street" by a mere penny and revenues rose all of just 6%. Does that make Microsoft boring? Unfortunately, the company couldn't quit while it was inches ahead. It did warn investors that the fourth quarter wasn't shaping up so well.

Steiner Leisure (NASDAQ:STNR) was another topper. The company behind most of the exotic and relaxing spa treatments on the major cruise ships earned $0.61 a share when the few analysts tracking the company were expecting the bottom line to go from $0.52 a share last year to $0.56 a share this time around.

Trouncing expectations shouldn't come as much of a surprise with Steiner. That's exactly what the spa operator has done in 13 of its last 14 quarters. And lest you start thinking that the exception was a real stinker, it simply met the market's projection during that period after analysts raised their targets a week before the actual report.

The end result is that the company with 120 floating spas on popular fleets like Carnival (NASDAQ:CCL) and Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL), along with several dozen more resort hotel locations, has seen its stock soar by nearly 55% since being recommended to Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers 12 months ago.

The last market thumper was Verizon (NYSE:VZ). The telco giant earned $0.67 a share. Wall Street was banking on the company to repeat its $0.64 per share showing from last year. Like many phone carriers, Verizon's been coping with more competition for local phone subscribers, but it's also taking advantage of the industry's deregulation by broadening its reach into more services faster than you can ask, "Can you hear me now?"

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 as the average Rule Breaker selection has trounced the S&P 500's market return. Want in? Check out a free 30-day trial subscription.

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

Steiner Leisure is a Rule Breakers pick.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of toppers, but he doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.