Why settle for ordinary quarterly reports?

Every week, I take a look 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 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 Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY). The home-goods retailer posted a quarterly profit of $0.55 a share. It may be less than the $0.66 that the chain reported a year ago, but it's comfortably ahead of the $0.44 a share that analysts were expecting.

It probably doesn't seem like a great time to be moving curtain rods and throw pillows. Linens 'n Things went out of business; Pier 1 (NYSE:PIR) is closing stores. However, this environment of shrinking rivals is helping survivors like Bed Bath & Beyond and Williams-Sonoma (NYSE:WSM).

Immucor (NASDAQ:BLUD) is another topper. The blood transfusion specialist earned $0.27 a share in its latest quarter. Wall Street was looking for $0.22 a share on the bottom line. Demand remains steady with the company's reagent products, welcome news since they account for 90% of Immucor's revenue.

Finally, we have Apogee Enterprises (NASDAQ:APOG) surpassing the pros. The industrial window and glass installer generated net income of $0.40 a share in its fiscal fourth quarter. Shareholders were looking through a dirtier window, braced for a profit of just $0.31 a share.

So, keep watching the companies that top 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 Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service. Want in? Check out a free 30-day trial subscription.

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