Why settle for ordinary quarterly reports?

I take a look every week at three companies that beat market expectations, since I believe that it's the biggest factor in a stock beating the market. Leaving Wall Street's pros with puzzled looks on their faces can be a good thing. It usually means that the companies have more in the tank than analysts figured. 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 giant earned a non-GAAP profit of $0.35 a share in its latest quarter, besting both the $0.30 a share it earned a year ago and the $0.32 a share that analysts were expecting.

Some may be surprised to see a company that relies on the strength of corporate information technology (IT) spending to deliver results, but they probably weren't paying attention. Corporate America's darlings like IBM (NYSE:IBM) and salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) also blew past Mr. Market's guesstimates earlier this year.

Nike (NYSE:NKE) is another topper. The athletic footwear juggernaut posted earnings of $0.99 a share before an asset impairment charge. Analysts were left staring at Nike's heels, banking on net income to clock in at just $0.79 a share.

The victory probably didn't surprise attentive shareholders. They have seen Nike beat market targets in each of the past seven quarters. The company did provide weak guidance for the current quarter, but we already know that Nike likes to lowball its projections.

Finally, we have Force Protection (NASDAQ:FRPT) driving in with bulletproof profitability. The maker of blast-repellant military vehicles earned $0.17 a share in its fourth quarter. Investors were looking for net income of only $0.11 a share. Force Protection is no longer an active Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation, though it seems to share many traits with current picks like iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) and AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV) -- young growth stocks that are gaining ground by making life safer for military personnel.

So, keep watching the companies that wallop 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 free 30-day trial subscription with no obligation to subscribe.

Either way, come back next Monday to learn about more stocks that blew the market away.

AeroVironment, salesforce.com, and iRobot are Motley Fool Rule Breakers 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.