Every week, I look at a few companies that exceeded their profit targets. If a company has left Wall Street's pros with quizzical expressions, that usually means that the company has more in the tank than the analysts had figured -- and capital appreciation often follows. So let's see who humbled the prognosticators this past week.

We can start with Fluor (NYSE:FLR). The industrial builder saw its first-quarter profits soar 51% to $1.12 a share, comfortably ahead of the $0.93 that it earned a year ago. It did take a pair of big cancellations off its backlog list -- a $2.1 billion refinery in Kuwait and a $580 million hydrocracker construction deal with Valero (NYSE:VLO) -- and it lowered its guidance slightly for the entire year. However, Fluor still scored $5.5 billion in new project awards during the quarter, so it's clearly not smarting for business.

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI) is another topper. The organic grocer earned $0.24 a share before asset impairment charges. Yes, that's less than the $0.29 a share it rang up a year ago, but Wall Street was expecting just $0.18 on the bottom line.

Whole Foods isn't as recession-resistant as conventional supermarket operators are. Folks are counting their pennies, and budget-conscious shoppers are shunning the upscale grocery experience. And sure enough, comps fell at Whole Foods. Classy premium outfits such as Whole Foods, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), and Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) (NYSE:CMG-B) have all seen traffic decline at the individual store level.  

Finally, we have Helen of Troy (NASDAQ:HELE) looking pretty. The maker of beauty-care products gave its followers an extreme makeover, by earning $0.36 a share on a non-GAAP basis. Mr. Market was looking for net income of just $0.14. The company was one of the original entries in my "10 Stocks Under $10" eight years ago. Shares have gone on to double since then.

So keep watching the companies that surpass expectations. Over time, doing so 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.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection and a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Starbucks and Whole Foods Market are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Starbucks is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill and Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services 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.