There's a lot that can be gleaned from a quarterly report. If you're short on time, don't begin at the top. Start at the bottom and work your way up. A company's bottom line is clearly important, and if you find that it has trounced what Wall Street's finest had been targeting, keep working your way higher -- something rewarding just might be happening.

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

We'll start with Topps (NASDAQ:TOPP). This is one case where simply eyeballing the bottom line isn't enough. The baseball card and candy specialist saw earnings dip from $0.12 a share last year to $0.08 a share this time around. That's exactly what analysts had been expecting out of the company.

However, if we dig a little deeper into the income statement, we find that there were a few one-time hits like severance costs and the expenses incurred in the company's proxy battle. Absent those items, Topps would have earned $0.12 a share. And if we go back to last year's report, we find a non-cash reversal of income tax reserves. Strip that away, and the company actually saw earnings climb from $0.08 to $0.12 a share (instead of the other way around, as reported). So, yes, Topps is a topper, and not just because of its name.

Then we have McCormick (NYSE:MKC). The popular spice maker was only supposed to grow earnings from $0.35 a share last year to $0.36 a share here in its fiscal third quarter. Instead, the company earned $0.42 a share after we back out restructuring-related charges. Food stocks tend to be sleepy yet dependable investments, but McCormick is now looking to grow earnings this year at a respectable 11% to 12% clip.

Payroll services provider Paychex (NASDAQ:PAYX) grew its quarterly profit by a nickel per share to $0.35. Analysts were holding out stubs marked $0.34 a share.

You may not get too excited about a single penny, but let's chart the trend here. Three months ago, Paychex simply hit its quarterly mark. Six months ago, Paychex came up short by a penny. We're seeing a gradual trend toward outperforming expectations, so check back in three months to see if welcome momentum continues to show itself.

And 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. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Foo l has a disclosure policy.