Why settle for ordinary quarterly reports?

Every week, we look at three companies that beat market expectations, since beating expectations is one of the biggest factors in a stock beating the market. 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 over the past few trading days.

We can start with Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL). The enterprise software juggernaut -- with the acquisitive appetite to show for it -- posted a quarterly profit of $0.29 a share, before one-time items. That is well ahead of the $0.22 a share it earned a year ago on that basis, as well as the $0.27 a share profit that Wall Street was expecting.

Oracle shareholders are probably used to wins. The company has beaten analyst bottom-line guesstimates in six of the past seven quarters.

Palm (NASDAQ:PALM) is another topper. The smartphone pioneer posted an adjusted deficit of $0.12 a share, narrower than the $0.18 a share that Mr. Market was looking for.

Yes, Palm is far from perfect. It has been outdone on the smartphone front by companies like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and BlackBerry parent Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM). However, Palm isn't going away after posting a 49% advance in year-over-year smartphone unit sales.

Finally, we have Carnival (NYSE:CCL) sailing past the pros. The leading cruise ship operator posted a profit of $1.63 a share after backing out a favorable insurance recovery. Analysts were perched on the $1.58 a share pier.

Carnival's performance is welcome news to rivals like Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL), as well as service providers like Steiner Leisure (NASDAQ:STNR), which runs most of Carnival's on-board spas.

So, keep watching the companies that beat 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.

Steiner Leisure is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Royal Caribbean and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

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