Expectations aren't carved in stone. However, they are published for all to see, and when a company laps Wall Street's profit targets, it's a great time to dig deeper into the company. What did analysts miss? Will they keep missing it? Some companies wind up being perpetual market thumpers. More than likely, that will translate into stock gains that are also better than the norm.

Let's take a look at a few of these beaters that humbled the prognosticators this past week.

We'll start with Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ). The personal computing giant with that powerful namesake printing products business crushed its profit target. The company earned $0.52 a share, and that was a nickel ahead of what the market pros were hoping for.

Then again, analysts should be used to eating HP's dust by now. Since Mark Hurd took over as CEO in April of last year, his cost-cutting initiatives have produced an uninterrupted streak of better-than-expected bottom-line results.

Shanda Interactive (NASDAQ:SNDA) was another hiker. The Chinese online gaming specialist earned the equivalent of $0.24 a share just as investors were expecting the company to only earn $0.06 a share.

Shareholders had a right to be concerned. Shanda's dominance of China's die-hard gamers had been dwindling in recent quarters as rivals NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES) and The9 (NASDAQ:NCTY) had gobbled up market share at Shanda's expense. Both Shanda and NetEase have been active recommendations in the Rule Breakers growth stock newsletter for nearly two years.

In and of itself, Shanda's report wasn't a beauty. Net revenues fell by a quarter and profits fell by a third. However, that's the beauty of market forecasts. If the pessimism is overdone, it's just as sweet as when analysts aren't optimistic enough to get it right.

Then we turn the page to Books-A-Million (NASDAQ:BAMM). The bookselling superstore concept generated profits of $0.14 a share during the seasonally sleepy July quarter. That was better than the $0.10 a share it had earned a year earlier and the $0.11 per share mark where Wall Street had left its bookmark.

It wasn't a stellar showing at the top line, even though the company did outperform larger competitor Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) for the period. The retailers are now hoping for a strong summer season and next year's final installment in the Harry Potter series.

So, keep watching the companies that lap expectations. Over time, it will be a rewarding experience for investors as the market rewards the overachievers. That's the kind of surprise we look for in the Rule Breakers newsletter service. 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. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.