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 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 typically follows.

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

We can start with GT Solar (NASDAQ:SOLR). The maker of equipment for photovoltaic manufacturers earned $0.25 a share in its fiscal third quarter, a sunny-side up surprise for analysts braced for a $0.15-a-share showing.

GT has been a wild stock since going public two years ago. The stock tanked 83% between its July 2008 IPO and the end of the year before bouncing back to nearly double in 2009. GT's solid showing bodes well for JA Solar (NASDAQ:JASO) and Evergreen Solar (NASDAQ:ESLR), which are reporting earnings this week.

Pitney Bowes (NYSE:PBI) also earned the market's stamp of approval. The metered-mail specialist posted adjusted net income of $0.64 a share, well short of the $0.77 a share it earned a year ago, but the pros were banking on a profit of only $0.61 a share. The company's bottom line may have taken a step back in 2009, but Pitney Bowes still managed to bump its dividend higher for the 28th year in a row.

Finally, we have Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM) delivering good news. The country's top content-delivery network -- speeding up the serving of secure files and Web pages -- earned $0.46 a share in its latest quarter. Wall Street was settling for $0.43 a share on the bottom line.

Despite the pricing pressures of a competitive cyberspace niche where smaller rivals Limelight Networks (NASDAQ:LLNW) and InterNAP Network Services (NASDAQ:INAP) fight to price their services competitively, Akamai found a way to grow.

It's important to 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.

Akamai Technologies is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Pitney Bowes is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. 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 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.