Every week, I take a look at a few companies that lapped their profit targets. Leaving Wall Street's pros with quizzical looks on their faces can be a good thing. It usually means that the companies have more in the tank than analysts figured, and capital appreciation often follows.

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

We'll start with Dow Jones (NYSE:DJ). The financial publisher bucked the trend of print media stalwarts by earning $0.47 a share for the December quarter. That was well ahead of the $0.41 per share it had earned a year earlier and the $0.43 a share that analysts were expecting.

Dow Jones is blessed, of course. Circulation may be slipping at most conventional newspaper companies, but a buoyant market has helped create interest for Dow Jones' offline -- and online -- Wall Street-driven publications. Earlier this month, Dow Jones shrunk the size of both its Barron's and Wall Street Journal flagship reads, so the current quarter is going to be even more critical than the December period. Still, it's good to know that all print media giants aren't languishing.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was another topper. The software giant clocked in ahead of the market's profit target despite delays in its Windows Vista and Office programs. The company earned $0.26 a share, $0.03 per share ahead of where the pros were parked. To be fair, this is less than what Mr. Softy earned a year ago. However, Wall Street was clearly braced for a dip, and we've known about the delays for months now.

I wasn't entirely thrilled by the company's report. The company lost money in its online services. I know that MSN is in the process of retooling its cyberspace offerings, but it's hard to justify red ink when your rivals, like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), are splashing around in fat margins. The company also posted an operating loss in its consumer electronics subsidiary that is being spearheaded by the Xbox and Zune platforms. All this tells me is that even when Microsoft isn't at the top of its game with its software products, it's still primarily a software company.

Then we have Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). The pioneer in renting DVDs by mail through an intuitive online interface earned $0.21 a share during the holiday quarter. The market would have been happy with a $0.15 per-share showing. Record churn proved that customers are staying put despite the growing popularity of Blockbuster's (NYSE:BBI) online service.

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 Motley Fool 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.

Microsoft is an Inside Value recommendation. Yahoo! and Netflix are active Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks.

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