History is written by winners. True to that adage, this weekly overview is written about winners. By spotlighting companies that blew past Wall Street targets, we can come up with some pretty dynamic names. Even though you're reading this a week later, the chances are usually pretty good that the market will continue to underestimate the overachieving company's earnings potential a quarter later.

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 athletic footwear giant saw fiscal third-quarter earnings per share surge 23% higher, to $1.24 a share. Analysts were checking off their swooshes in the $1.10 range. Strength in Asia and the Americas helped offset currency-related weakness in Europe. Even though sales could have been higher, and operating margins were hit with higher material costs, Nike continues to be a brand powerhouse. It's nice to see the company tie its laces and jog past the market again.

Shuffle Master (NASDAQ:SHFL) was another topper. The maker of automatic card shufflers, chip sorters, table games, and other casino staples earned $0.23 a share in the first quarter of its fiscal 2006 year. The market was expecting earnings of $0.21 a share, and you know how it goes in blackjack -- you don't hit on 21. The Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation achieved market-thumping results on a better-than-expected 31% uptick in sales. This follows slot-machine giant IGT (NYSE:IGT) also beating expectations earlier this year. It's a good a sign as any that the gaming industry may be worth gambling on in the coming quarters.

Then we have Palm (NASDAQ:PALM). The company pioneered the PDA market, but it seemed to be a graying founder when Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) won the market's fancy with its BlackBerry lines. Palm has fought back thanks to its Treo smartphones, and with the smartphone market growing by a whopping 70% last year, Palm is once again in the right place at the right time. Will the good fortune stick? It certainly seems that way. This past quarter, the company earned $0.19 a share, beating Wall Street's consensus by $0.03.

Like Shuffle Master, Palm is another Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. It's trading 82% higher since David Gardner singled out the stock last year. It's no coincidence that the company has also beaten market forecasts for the past four quarters. Upside earnings surprises serve as perfect incubators if you want to grow higher returns.

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 Motley Fool 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 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 not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.