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.