Why settle for ordinary quarterly reports?

Each week I take a look at three companies that beat market expectations, since I believe that that'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, 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 Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). There were "no more tears" when the drug and consumer nondurables titan posted a quarterly profit of $1.26 a share. That was flat with last year's $1.26-a-share showing, but comfortably ahead of the $1.22 a share that analysts had been expecting.

It wasn't perfect. Cost-conscious consumers shifting to cheaper generics and a strengthening dollar nicked the top line. However, J&J's landing bodes well for fellow drug giants like Merck (NYSE:MRK), Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ), and Schering-Plough (NYSE:SGP) that report this week.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is another topper. The search engine leader earned $5.16 a share in its latest quarter, blasting past both the $4.93 a share that Wall Street was banking on and the $4.84 a share that Big G rang up a year ago.

Finally, we have Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) on the run. The investment banker clocked in with profits of $3.39 a share. Analysts figured that the firm would only be good for $1.64 a share.

Goldman Sachs is also making headway toward paying back its TARP capital, no doubt as a way to battle back against the public's unrest over the firm's taking $10 billion in TARP funds and clearing nearly $13 billion of the money that went to AIG (NYSE:AIG) as a counterparty to AIG's losing bets.

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.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. 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.