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An expectations-beating earnings report helped send Orbital Sciences (NYSE: OA ) shares into... orbit... Thursday.
Reporting $0.26 per share in profits for its fiscal third quarter 2013, on $322 million in revenues, the company enjoyed an immediate bump in share price. Shares closed at $22.72 a stub, up 4.4% for the day.
Analysts cited on Yahoo! Finance had expected Orbital to report higher revenues ($360 million), but lower profit ($0.23 per share). The company's ability to earn more, on less revenue, thus came as something of a pleasant surprise.
Also pleasing was the company's confirmation that it generated positive free cash flow of $31.5 million in the quarter, a reversal of last year's Q3 free cash flow tally of negative $20.8 million.
Commenting on the results, Orbital CEO David W. Thompson explained that "reduced satellite production activity" was the cause of the weaker-than-anticipated revenue, yet the company still managed to generate "good profit margins and strong free cash flow in the third quarter." Thompson added that Orbital took in "about $450 million in new orders and option exercises, boosting year-to-date new business volume to approximately $1.75 billion."
Last year, Orbital recorded sales of only $1.4 billion for the entire year.