Nailing profit targets should be easy. Analysts talk to companies, their suppliers, and their customers. Then they compile their data in elaborate profit models. That's why it's noteworthy when a company is doing so well that it leaves the market mavens in the dust.

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 Pixar (NASDAQ:PIXR). The computer animation powerhouse went to infinity and beyond -- again -- in what is likely to be one of its last quarters as a stand-alone public company before its merger with Disney (NYSE:DIS). The company behind theatrical blockbusters including Toy Story and Finding Nemo earned $0.25 a share in its fourth quarter, well above the $0.18 per share in profitability that the market was expecting.

It's a healthy habit that Pixar has cultivated over the years. The previous quarter, Pixar doubled the $0.11 a share in earnings that Wall Street was projecting. The market-crushing report was made even more impressive a few days later, when rival DreamWorks Animation (NYSE:DWA) announced lackluster results. Both Pixar and DreamWorks Animation are active Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations.

Hansen Natural (NASDAQ:HANS) was another topper. The energy-drink monster (and maker of the Monster energy drink) saw fourth-quarter profits soar 152% higher to $0.75 a share. That was $0.13 a stub higher than where the market was standing. Despite a mad rush by beverage companies, big and small, to put out their own energy drinks, Hansen continues to be an alternative-beverage powerhouse. Investors have been chugging down the sweet rewards, with the stock having risen fivefold over the past year alone. How did it get there? Well, true to this theme of market-thumping quarters, it's what Hansen achieved during every single quarter in 2005.

IMAX (NASDAQ:IMAX) is the third company we'll be taking a look at this week. The provider of larger-than-life film experiences produced earnings of $0.40 a share for all of 2005, above its earlier guidance of $0.35 to $0.38 a share. The company also announced that it's exploring "strategic alternatives," which is market slang for "make me an offer."

The Rule Breakers pick took off on the news, especially since IMAX revealed that it had already received "several" unsolicited offers. It could get pretty interesting, especially since IMAX has been growing in popularity as the multiplex operators have seen ticket sales slide for three straight years.

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 Breakers selection has trounced the S&P 500's market return. 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.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of toppers. He does own shares in Pixar and Disney. The Foo l has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.