Why settle for ordinary quarterly reports?

I take a look at three companies that beat market expectations every week, since I believe that it's the biggest factor 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 Sealy (NYSE:ZZ). The leading mattress maker has plenty of near-term challenges, but it still managed to post a profit of $0.12 a share in its latest quarter. That may be lower than the $0.22 a share it earned a year ago, but it's comfortably ahead of the $0.08 a share that Mr. Market was expecting.

Sealy's strength came from an unlikely source: high-end mattresses. Its Posturepedic beds above the $1,000 price point sold briskly, no doubt posing challenges for Tempur-Pedic (NYSE:TPX) and Sleep Number bed master Select Comfort (NASDAQ:SCSS).

Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) put the "wow" in "Chihuahua," as the company behind Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut grew its bottom line to $0.58 a share. Analysts were waiting at the $0.54-a-share drive-thru window.

Fast-food chains have been holding up better than casual-dining concepts. It's no surprise to see Yum! hit its earnings out of the park in the same week that Ruby Tuesday (NYSE:RT) missed its net income target and Brinker International (NYSE:EAT) talked down its guidance.

Costco (NASDAQ:COST) is another topper -- at least excluding some one-time charges related to inventory and membership-fee accounting. The warehouse club generated a profit of $0.97 a share before charges. Investors were looking for $0.93 a share in earnings.

Keep watching the companies that lap expectations. Over time, it will be a profitable 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.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of toppers. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, save for Select Comfort. 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.