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 Red Hat (NYSE:RHT). The software provider posted a quarterly profit of $0.24 a share, well ahead of both the $0.19 a share that it earned a year ago and the $0.18 a share that analysts were expecting.

Red Hat's attractively priced subscription model for spruced-up Linux software is clicking with companies and consumers at a time when technology spending is being scaled back.

"The worse the market gets, the better it is for low-cost software providers like Red Hat, Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL), and -- on a grander scale -- Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) or Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)," writes fellow Fool Anders Bylund. "Return on IT investments is the name of the game these days, and those are the companies that deliver top-dollar value on bottom-dollar cash commitments."

Another winner in the software space is Tibco (NASDAQ:TIBX). The enterprise software specialist's fiscal fourth quarter earnings climbed by 17% to $0.23 a share, on an adjusted basis. Analysts were only expecting non-GAAP profitability of $0.19 a share from the company.

Finally, we have Ennis (NYSE:EBF) as another topper. The business forms maker delivered a profit of $0.38 a share in its third quarter. Sure, that is less than the $0.45 a share it rang up a year ago, but you don't expect a business forms printer to thrive in today's difficult climate. This month alone has seen office supply superstore Office Max suspend its dividend and payroll services giant Paychex (NASDAQ:PAYX) deliver disappointing results. The key for Ennis is that investors were braced for a profit of just $0.36 a share. It's all about besting expectations.

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 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.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.