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When looking over the earnings season roster, one very interesting point to consider is the recent history of earnings surprises for the reporting companies.

To that end, we screened next week’s Q1 earnings reporters for those with a significant average of quarterly earnings surprises over the last year. The final list of 20 is below. (To access the complete history of earnings surprises, click here.)

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Do you think these companies can surprise again? Use this list as a starting-off point for your own analysis into the reporting companies.

List sorted by avg. quarterly earnings surprise.

1. The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW): Chemicals Industry. Market cap of $44.85B. Earnings to be released on 4/28/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 32.99%. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.25). The stock has gained 28.76% over the last year.

2. Avalonbay Communities Inc. (NYSE:AVB): REIT. Market cap of $10.59B. Earnings to be released on 4/27/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 26.72%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 9.01% (equivalent to 11.36 days of average volume). The stock has gained 27.53% over the last year.

3. Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET): Health Care Plans Industry. Market cap of $14.10B. Earnings to be released on 4/28/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 24.90%. AET might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.8, and P/FCF ratio at 12.55. The stock has gained 21.02% over the last year.

4. Rockwell Automation Inc. (NYSE:ROK): Industrial Electrical Equipment Industry. Market cap of $13.47B. Earnings to be released on 4/27/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 24.84%. The stock has gained 55.68% over the last year.

5. Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE:VLO): Oil & Gas Refining & Marketing Industry. Market cap of $16.16B. Earnings to be released on 4/26/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 22.91%. The stock has gained 47.3% over the last year.

6. Noble Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NBL): Independent Oil & Gas Industry. Market cap of $16.94B. Earnings to be released on 4/28/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 22.71%. The stock has gained 22.28% over the last year.

7. Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. (NYSE:SWK): Machine Tools & Accessories Industry. Market cap of $12.81B. Earnings to be released on 4/26/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 19.30%. The stock has gained 24.45% over the last year.

8. Hess Corporation (NYSE:HES): Oil & Gas Refining & Marketing Industry. Market cap of $27.34B. Earnings to be released on 4/27/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 18.94%. The stock has gained 26.25% over the last year.

9. Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT): Farm & Construction Machinery Industry. Market cap of $69.17B. Earnings to be released on 4/29/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 18.92%. The stock has gained 63.12% over the last year.

10. Range Resources Corporation (NYSE:RRC): Independent Oil & Gas Industry. Market cap of $8.51B. Earnings to be released on 4/26/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 16.48%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 9.2% (equivalent to 5.5 days of average volume). The stock has gained 7.73% over the last year.

11. Banco Santander-Chile (NYSE:SAN): Money Center Banks Industry. Market cap of $16.07B. Earnings to be released on 4/29/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 16.26%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 14.24%.

12. Ameriprise Financial Inc. (NYSE:AMP): Asset Management Industry. Market cap of $15.35B. Earnings to be released on 4/25/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 16.24%. The stock has gained 30.12% over the last year.

13. V.F. Corporation (NYSE:VFC): Textile Industry. Market cap of $11.26B. Earnings to be released on 4/29/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 16.00%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 10.42%.

14. Baker Hughes Incorporated (NYSE:BHI): Oil & Gas Equipment & Services Industry. Market cap of $32.14B. Earnings to be released on 4/27/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 15.09%. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 8.33% over the last week.

15. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (MHP): Publishing Industry. Market cap of $11.98B. Earnings to be released on 4/26/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 14.87%. The stock has gained 22.02% over the last year.

16. National Oilwell Varco, Inc. (NYSE:NOV): Oil & Gas Equipment & Services Industry. Market cap of $33.24B. Earnings to be released on 4/27/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 14.76%. The stock has gained 77.82% over the last year.

17. Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU): Internet Information Providers Industry. Market cap of $52.03B. Earnings to be released on 4/25/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 14.05%. The stock is exhibiting strong upside momentum--currently trading 6.33% above its SMA20, 15% above its SMA50, and 42.29% above its SMA200. The stock has had a good month, gaining 17.48%.

18. Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX): Specialty Eateries Industry. Market cap of $27.52B. Earnings to be released on 4/27/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 13.70%. The stock has gained 37.19% over the last year.

19. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT): Application Software Industry. Market cap of $216.45B. Earnings to be released on 4/28/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 13.42%. The stock has lost 16.12% over the last year.

20. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX): Music & Video Stores Industry. Market cap of $12.93B. Earnings to be released on 4/25/11. Over the last year, the company announced an average quarterly earnings surprise of 13.31%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 10.41%.

*Earnings surprise data sourced from Daily Finance, earnings date and all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 20 Companies Reporting Earnings Next Week With a History of Surprises