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A Surprise Package for Investors


By Numer de Guia Investors always welcome positive earnings surprises -- when a company's reported quarterly profit tops the average consensus forecast of Wall Street analysts. And they especially like it when companies beat those estimates by a wide margin, as many believe it is an indication of forward momentum.

That idea informed our latest stock screen. All of the companies we searched for had to have their latest reported quarterly earnings beat average analyst estimates by at least 10%. They had to have posted positive operating earnings on a 12-month trailing basis. And as a final filter, all the stocks had to carry Standard & Poor's top investment ranking of 5 STARS (buy), meaning that S&P analysts expect them to be among the best performers over the next 12 months.

These 17 names turned up:

Canadian National Railway (CNI)

Cephalon (CEPH)

ChoicePoint (CPS)

Clayton Homes (CMH)

Direct Focus (DFXI)

Dover (DOV)

Electronic Arts (ERTS)

FedEx (FDX)

FEI (FEIC)

KB Home (KBH)

Mohawk Industries (MHK)

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MWD)

Nucor (NUE)

Siebel Systems (SEBL)

Tripos (TRPS)

TXU (TXU)

Watson Wyatt (WW) De Guia is a portfolio services analyst for Standard & Poor's


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