I believe that the biggest factor in a stock's ability to beat the market is its ability to beat the market's expectations. That's why I look every week at three companies that have humbled Wall Street's pros over the past few trading days. If a company has more in the tank than the analysts figured, capital appreciation often follows.

Let's look at a few companies that humbled the prognosticators this past week.

We can start with Best Buy (NYSE: BBY). The holidays can be pretty sweet when you don't have Circuit City to worry about. The consumer-electronics giant posted a profit of $1.82 a share, well ahead of the $1.61 it rang up a year ago and the $1.79 that Wall Street was targeting. As the economy gradually recovers, consumer electronics are a logical magnet for discretionary income. Smaller rival Conn's (Nasdaq: CONN) also delivered better-than-expected results.

Lennar (NYSE: LEN) checked in ahead of the pros, too. The Southeastern developer generated a deficit of a mere $0.04 a share, a lot less red ink than the $0.30-per-share loss that the market was discounting. The housing victory wasn't contagious, since fellow builder KB Home (NYSE: KBH) missed its mark a day earlier.

Finally, we have Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE) making its mark in desktop-publishing software. Even as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) disrespects Adobe's Flash platform, Adobe came through with a non-GAAP profit of $0.40 a share. The company earned more a year ago, but the pros were settling for adjusted net income of $0.37 a share.

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.

Apple, Adobe Systems, and Best Buy are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy, which is also a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. 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.