Don't 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 stunned expressions 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 Ford (NYSE: F), which posted a profit of $0.48 a share before one-time items, speeding past the pros parked at $0.38 a share. It's been quite a turnaround for Ford, delivering its fifth consecutive quarter of profits that came in better than expected. It's also been quite a turnaround for the carmakers in general, given the investor appetite for Tesla Motors' (Nasdaq: TSLA) IPO this summer and GM's upcoming reboot.

First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) is also a shining star. The solar energy specialist earned $2.04 a share in its latest quarter, comfortably ahead of the $1.79 a share it rang up a year ago and the $1.95 a share that Wall Street was expecting. The stock still took its lumps on gross margin concerns, but it's yet another solar player to deliver market-thumping results.

Finally we have IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX) earning $0.10 a share -- or $0.15 a share on an adjusted basis. Analysts were settling for a profit of $0.09 a share out of the company that has breathed new life into the corner multiplex with its premium exhibitions. From Dolby (NYSE: DLB) to RealD (NYSE: RLD), companies that are giving theater owners ways to deliver enhanced cinematic experiences held up well during the recession. They're looking even better as we crawl our way out.

It's important to keep watching the companies that surpass expectations. Over time, it will be a lucrative experience for investors as the market rewards the overachievers. That's the kind of surprise that 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.

First Solar and IMAX are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Dolby Laboratories and Ford Motor are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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.