Making investors happy at earnings time isn't difficult. Companies just need to make sure they at least do one thing: beat earnings expectations.
With earnings season kicking off today after the market closes, investors are already trying to guess which companies are the likeliest to make more money than expected. That's the holy grail during the pivotal period, and a gaggle of companies have a knack of doing it like clockwork the past four quarters.
There are 11 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500, including gadget seller Best Buy, Facebook and computer software maker Symantec, that have beaten earnings expectations by 10% or more in each of the past four calendar quarters, according to a USA TODAY review of data from S&P Capital IQ.
Not surprisingly, these companies, which keep delivering positive earnings surprises, are winners with investors. An equal-weighted index of the 11 stocks are up more than 28% in the past 12 months, beating the S&P 500′s 20.6% gain during that time.