Positive earnings surprises come in many flavors, most of them tasty. This week, we'll take a look at a few companies that trounced their bottom-line targets. The first two have been doing just that for a few quarters lately, but then we'll wrap things up with a surprising entry that really smoked the market with its strongest performance in two years.

We'll start with T. Rowe Price (NASDAQ:TROW). The mutual fund company earned $0.49 a share during the second quarter, while analysts were only holding out for a $0.46-per-share showing. It's the fifth straight quarter in which T. Rowe has come in ahead of Wall Street's targets.

T. Rowe has always been a quality company, even after many of its peers slipped on trading improprieties. It's good to see the good guys finish first, but the sector as a whole seems to be faring well. On the same day that T. Rowe hit it out, Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN) also beat the street.

The Knot (NASDAQ:KNOT) was another topper. The wedding-planning content provider also clocked in $0.03 per share higher than the pros' guesstimate bouquet had landed. The company's quarter showed at least 20% growth in its publishing and retailing efforts, but the meaty online advertising business produced the largest forward steps.

The Rule Breakers recommendation has fared well this year, soaring 56% higher since being singled out back in mid-January. There's a reason for that. The company has trounced profit forecasts by at least 25% in each of the past three quarters.

Then we have General Motors (NYSE:GM).

GM? Really? Really. Even though rival Ford (NYSE:F) stumbled a week earlier, GM aced its driving exam. The company posted a charge-laden loss for its June quarter. Back out those one-time hits, and you find GM -- yes, General Motors -- blowing away the market by earning $2.03 a share, nearly four times more than the $0.55 per share in profits that analysts had been bracing for. Nice driving, for a company that sorely needed it.

So keep watching the companies that lap expectations. Over time, it will be a rewarding experience for investors. That's the kind of surprise we look for in the Rule Breakers newsletter service. The strategy has paid off, as the average Rule Breakers selection has clocked in slightly ahead of 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. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.