Why settle for ordinary quarterly reports?

Every week, I look at three companies that have beaten market expectations. Leaving Wall Street's pros with puzzled expressions usually means that the companies they underestimated have more in the tank than expected -- and capital appreciation often follows.

So let's look at a few companies that humbled the prognosticators over the past few trading days.

We can start with United Natural Foods (NASDAQ:UNFI). The organic-foodstuffs distributor posted a quarterly profit of $0.39 a share, well ahead of both last year's $0.30-per-share profit and the $0.34 that analysts were expecting. Organic grocers such as Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI) are struggling to improve their bottom lines, but United Natural Foods is simply broadening its distribution.

Chinese online-gaming pioneer Shanda Interactive (NASDAQ:SNDA) also beat the pros. It earned $0.78 a share, when Mr. Market was willing to settle for just $0.74. Perhaps this performance isn't that much of a surprise: Peers including Changyou.com (NASDAQ:CYOU) and Perfect World (NASDAQ:PWRD) also topped Wall Street's profit targets last month.

Finally, we have Conn's (NASDAQ:CONN) matching last year's $0.47-per-share showing on the bottom line, before favorable one-time items. The consumer-electronics retailer will take that stalemate, though, since analysts were banking on just $0.44 a share in net income. Life isn't going too bad without Circuit City for smaller players such as Conn's and hhgregg (NYSE:HGG), as they nibble away at the market share that once belonged to the now-liquidated superstore chain.

Watching the companies that surpass expectations will be a rewarding experience for investors, because 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.

Shanda Interactive is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Whole Foods Market is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of toppers. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and 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.