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This week saw the kick-off to 2011 Q4 earnings season, with Alcoa (NYSE:AA) traditionally leading the pack. For ideas on how to create your own watch list for this season's reporting companies, we ran a screen on the tech sector.

We screened over 500 tech stocks for those with a history of beating analyst earnings estimates over the past four quarters.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.‬

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.

Do you think these stocks will surprise the market once more? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

List sorted by average earnings surprise.

1. Silicon Graphics International Corp. (NASDAQ:SGI): Focuses on helping customers solve their technology challenges by delivering clustered and high-performance computing and storage solutions, and software and services. Market cap of $379.59M. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.44 vs. estimate at 0.01 (surprise of 4300%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.07 vs. estimate at -0.12 (surprise of 158.3%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.12 vs. estimate at -0.03 (surprise of 500%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.07 vs. estimate at 0.04 (surprise of 75%). [Average earnings surprise at 1258.32%]. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 27.9% (equivalent to 16.35 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 15.89%.

2. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (NYSE:SMI): An investment holding company, engages in the computer-aided design, manufacture, packaging, testing, and trade of integrated circuits. Market cap of $1.31B. In Mar 2010: Reported EPS at -0.41 vs. estimate at -0.45 (surprise of 8.9%). In Jun 2010: Reported EPS at 0.2 vs. estimate at -0.07 (surprise of 385.7%). In Sep 2010: Reported EPS at 0.06 vs. estimate at -0.01 (surprise of 700%). In Dec 2010: Reported 0.13 vs. estimate at -0.05 (surprise of 360%). [Average earnings surprise at 363.65%]. The stock has lost 39.19% over the last year.

3. ACI Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACIW): Develops, markets, installs, and supports software products and services to facilitate electronic payments worldwide. Market cap of $956.42M. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.8 vs. estimate at 0.72 (surprise of 11.1%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.05 vs. estimate at 0.01 (surprise of 400%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.29 vs. estimate at 0.08 (surprise of 262.5%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.31 vs. estimate at 0.18 (surprise of 72.2%). [Average earnings surprise at 186.45%]. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 9.66% (equivalent to 11.95 days of average volume). The stock has gained 9.43% over the last year.

4. Vicor Corp. (NASDAQ:VICR): Engages in the design, development, manufacture, and marketing of modular power components and power systems. Market cap of $326.54M. In Mar 20/9: Reported EPS at -0.06 vs. estimate at -0.1 (surprise of 40%). In Jun 20/9: Reported EPS at 0.03 vs. estimate at -0.01 (surprise of 400%). In Sep 20/9: Reported EPS at 0.04 vs. estimate at 0 (surprise of N/A). In Dec 20/9: Reported 0.06 vs. estimate at 0.03 (surprise of 100%). [Average earnings surprise at 180%]. The stock has lost 47.55% over the last year.

5. Cepheid (NASDAQ:CPHD): Develops, manufactures, and markets integrated systems for testing in the clinical market, as well as for application in legacy biothreat, industrial, and partner markets. Market cap of $2.25B. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.02 vs. estimate at -0.02 (surprise of 200%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.01 vs. estimate at -0.01 (surprise of 200%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.03 vs. estimate at -0.02 (surprise of 250%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.03 vs. estimate at 0.02 (surprise of 50%). [Average earnings surprise at 175%]. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 11.3% (equivalent to 11.73 days of average volume). The stock has gained 49.21% over the last year.

6. Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK): Provides Internet and digital mapping and navigation services worldwide. Market cap of $20.04B. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.3 vs. estimate at 0.25 (surprise of 20%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.18 vs. estimate at 0.13 (surprise of 38.5%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.09 vs. estimate at 0.03 (surprise of 200%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.04 vs. estimate at -0.02 (surprise of 300%). [Average earnings surprise at 139.62%]. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 8.51% over the last week.

7. Silicon Image, Inc. (NASDAQ:SIMG): Engages in the design, development, and implementation of semiconductors and intellectual property solutions for the storage, distribution, and presentation of high-definition content in home and mobile environments worldwide. Market cap of $415.79M. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.07 vs. estimate at 0.03 (surprise of 133.3%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.03 vs. estimate at 0.01 (surprise of 200%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.05 vs. estimate at 0.03 (surprise of 66.7%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.06 vs. estimate at 0.04 (surprise of 50%). [Average earnings surprise at 112.5%]. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 7.87% over the last week.

8. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE:NLSN): Operates as an information and measurement company worldwide. Market cap of $10.50B. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.35 vs. estimate at 0.07 (surprise of 400%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.19 vs. estimate at 0.18 (surprise of 5.6%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.41 vs. estimate at 0.37 (surprise of 10.8%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.48 vs. estimate at 0.42 (surprise of 14.3%). [Average earnings surprise at 107.67%].

9. Alcatel-Lucent, S.A. (NYSE:ALU): Provides products, solutions, and transformation services that enable service providers, enterprises, governments, and strategic industries to deliver voice, data, and video communication services to end-users worldwide. Market cap of $3.65B. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.19 vs. estimate at 0.16 (surprise of 18.8%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.02 vs. estimate at -0.04 (surprise of 150%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.05 vs. estimate at 0.02 (surprise of 150%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.12 vs. estimate at 0.06 (surprise of 100%). [Average earnings surprise at 104.7%]. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.34). The stock has lost 47.32% over the last year.

10. RDA Microelectronics, Inc. (NASDAQ:RDA): Designs, develops, and markets radio-frequency and mixed-signal semiconductors for cellular, broadcast, and connectivity applications. Market cap of $446.80M. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.24 vs. estimate at 0.05 (surprise of 380%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.16 vs. estimate at 0.13 (surprise of 23.1%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.25 vs. estimate at 0.23 (surprise of 8.7%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.34 vs. estimate at 0.32 (surprise of 6.3%). [Average earnings surprise at 104.52%]. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 6.22% over the last week.

11. Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI): Publishes online, personal computer (PC), console, handheld, and mobile games of interactive entertainment worldwide. Market cap of $13.96B. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.53 vs. estimate at 0.51 (surprise of 3.9%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.13 vs. estimate at 0.08 (surprise of 62.5%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.1 vs. estimate at 0.05 (surprise of 100%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.07 vs. estimate at 0.02 (surprise of 250%). [Average earnings surprise at 104.1%]. The stock has gained 2.35% over the last year.

12. EarthLink Inc. (NASDAQ:ELNK): Provides communications services to individual and business customers in the United States. Market cap of $705.15M. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.2 vs. estimate at 0.17 (surprise of 17.6%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.15 vs. estimate at 0.14 (surprise of 7.1%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.06 vs. estimate at -0.03 (surprise of 300%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.07 vs. estimate at 0.04 (surprise of 75%). [Average earnings surprise at 99.92%]. The stock has lost 21.87% over the last year.

13. Zygo Corporation (NASDAQ:ZIGO): Designs, develops, and manufactures ultra-high precision measurement solutions to enhance its customers' manufacturing yields; and optical sub-systems and components for original equipment manufacturers and end-user applications in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $300.38M. In Sep 20/9: Reported EPS at -0.22 vs. estimate at -0.27 (surprise of 18.5%). In Dec 20/9: Reported EPS at 0.02 vs. estimate at -0.12 (surprise of 116.7%). In Mar 2010: Reported EPS at 0.04 vs. estimate at 0 (surprise of N/A). In Jun 2010: Reported 0.26 vs. estimate at 0.1 (surprise of 160%). [Average earnings surprise at 98.4%]. Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.75, and P/FCF ratio at 14.94. The stock has gained 41.65% over the last year.

14. Xyratex Ltd. (NASDAQ:XRTX): Provides modular enterprise-class data storage solutions and storage process technology. Market cap of $414.60M. In Feb 2011: Reported EPS at 0.24 vs. estimate at 0.22 (surprise of 9.1%). In May 2011: Reported EPS at -0.06 vs. estimate at 0 (surprise of N/A). In Aug 2011: Reported EPS at 0.42 vs. estimate at 0.17 (surprise of 147.1%). In Nov 2011: Reported 0.73 vs. estimate at 0.33 (surprise of 121.2%). [Average earnings surprise at 92.47%]. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 9.91% over the last week.

15. BroadSoft, Inc. (NASDAQ:BSFT): Provides software that enables fixed-line, mobile, and cable service providers to deliver voice and multimedia services over Internet protocol based networks. Market cap of $709.26M. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.44 vs. estimate at 0.3 (surprise of 46.7%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.18 vs. estimate at 0.12 (surprise of 50%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.29 vs. estimate at 0.12 (surprise of 141.7%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.38 vs. estimate at 0.22 (surprise of 72.7%. [Average earnings surprise at 77.78%]. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 25.03% (equivalent to 9.03 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 13.15% over the last week.

16. Silicon Motion Technology Corp. (NASDAQ:SIMO): Operates as a fabless semiconductor company. Market cap of $709.84M. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.18 vs. estimate at 0.09 (surprise of 100%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.18 vs. estimate at 0.13 (surprise of 38.5%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.29 vs. estimate at 0.2 (surprise of 45%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.4 vs. estimate at 0.23 (surprise of 73.9%). [Average earnings surprise at 64.35%]. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.08). Exhibiting strong upside momentum--currently trading 11.29% above its SMA20, 18.74% above its SMA50, and 73.38% above its SMA200. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 12.06% over the last week.

17. Atmel Corporation (NASDAQ:ATML): Designs, develops, manufactures, and markets a range of semiconductor integrated circuit products. Market cap of $4.33B. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.47 vs. estimate at 0.16 (surprise of 193.7%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.16 vs. estimate at 0.15 (surprise of 6.7%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.19 vs. estimate at 0.18 (surprise of 5.6%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.25 vs. estimate at 0.2 (surprise of 25%). [Average earnings surprise at 57.75%]. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 15.56% over the last week.

18. WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD): Provides health information services to consumers, physicians and other healthcare professionals, employers, and health plans through its public and private online portals, mobile platforms, and health-focused publications in the United States. Market cap of $2.09B. In Dec 2010: Reported EPS at 0.55 vs. estimate at 0.43 (surprise of 27.9%). In Mar 2011: Reported EPS at 0.32 vs. estimate at 0.15 (surprise of 113.3%). In Jun 2011: Reported EPS at 0.36 vs. estimate at 0.28 (surprise of 28.6%). In Sep 2011: Reported 0.24 vs. estimate at 0.17 (surprise of 41.2%). [Average earnings surprise at 52.75%]. The stock has lost 29.41% over the last year.

*Earnings data sourced from Yahoo! Finance, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 18 Tech Stocks With A History Of Earnings Surprises