Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Level 3 Communications, (NYSE:LVLT) jumped nearly 16% Wednesday after the company posted better-than-expected first-quarter results and strong forward guidance.

So what: Quarterly revenue rose 2% year over year, to $1.609 billion, which translated earnings of $0.47 per diluted share. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of just $0.28 per share on sales of $1.59 billion. Meanwhile, on a pro forma basis, Level 3's adjusted EBITDA increased 23.5%, to $458 million.

Level 3 also increased guidance for adjusted EBITDA, which is expected to grow 14% to 18% for the full year 2014. By comparison, Level 3 previously saw 11% to 14% growth. In addition, 2014 free cash flow is now expected to be $250 million to $300 million, or a $25 million increase from both the top and bottom ends of Level 3's previous range. 

Now what: All things considered, I think investors have every right to celebrate today's report. If Level 3 Communications can continue grabbing market share and focusing on profitable growth, I see no reason the stock can't continue to reward patient shareholders from here.

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Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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