Why settle for ordinary quarterly reports?

I take a look at three companies that beat market expectations every week, 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 Red Hat (NYSE:RHT). The Linux-based provider of enterprise solutions delivered a profit of $0.17 a share, ahead of the $0.16 a share that Mr. Market was banking on.

Red Hat's success was the result of a 21% surge in its bread-and-butter subscription revenue.

Micron Technology (NYSE:MU) also remembered to trounce its targets, earning $0.23 a share in its latest quarter. Analysts figured that Micron would reverse last year's huge deficit, but they were only holding out for a profit of $0.07 a share. With average selling prices for computer-standard DRAM memory chips growing sequentially for the first time in ages, Micron was able to fatten its margins.

Finally, we have ConAgra (NYSE:CAG) cooking up nicely. The company behind Healthy Choice frozen entrees and Peter Pan peanut butter earned $0.52 a share in its fiscal second quarter after adjusting for hedging activities and other items, besting both the $0.43 a share it posted a year ago and the $0.47 a share the pros were expecting.

ConAgra gained ground on the bottom line despite a 2% slide in net sales. Recession-weary consumers are turning to cheaper store brands in this price-conscious climate. The trend has benefitted TreeHouse Foods (NYSE:THS), Ralcorp (NYSE:RAH), Cott (NYSE:COT), and other makers of house-branded knockoffs, but ConAgra is finding a way to make it work on the bottom line.

So, keep watching the companies that surpass 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 30-day trial subscription.

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

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of toppers. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this column. 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.