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 can start with Big Lots (NYSE:BIG). The retailer of closeout merchandise earned $0.21 a share in its latest quarter. That was well ahead of the per-share guidance of $0.07 to $0.10 it had set three months ago. Analysts aimed higher, targeting $0.12 a share in profitability, after Big Lots began to rattle off impressive comps. It wasn't enough.

Shanda Interactive (NASDAQ:SNDA) is another topper. The maker of online games in China earned $0.42 per share in its latest quarter. The showing was well ahead of the $0.23 a share it generated in net income a year ago, and the $0.36 per share that Wall Street was expecting. The news came a week after rival NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES) also trounced its targets.

When two leaders are growing at a healthier clip than analyst projections, it usually pays to keep a close eye on the sector. Even though The9 (NASDAQ:NCTY) -- which along with Shanda and NetEase account for roughly 60% of the online gaming market in China -- missed its mark, it's still an expanding niche. It should come as no surprise that Shanda and NetEase have been recommended in the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service for years now.

Finally, we have Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), earning $0.32 a share in its latest quarter. It may have simply grazed the pros at $0.30 per share, but a win is a win. Even though Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) has become the new PC darling, it's good to see Dell showing signs of life.

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 Rule Breakers. Want in? Check out a free 30-day trial subscription.

No matter what, come back next Monday to learn about more stocks that blew the market away.

Dell Computer is a stock pick in both Inside Value and Motley Fool Stock Advisor. NetEase and Shanda areRule Breakers recommendations.

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 part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.