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What: Shares of ICG Group (NASDAQ:ICGE) finished Thursday with a 6% gain after topping out at a gain of more than 11% in early trading. The company reported stronger-than-expected results for its fiscal first quarter before the opening bell.

So what: ICG's quarterly revenue grew 53% year over year, to hit $18.4 million, ahead of Wall Street's $17.8 million consensus, and its loss of $0.10 per share was narrower than the $0.13 loss analysts had expected. During their earnings call, company executives also reiterated their full-year guidance, which calls for a range of $78 million and $80 million in revenue, and a loss of anywhere from $0.36 to $0.41 per share for 2014. Both ranges are a shade better than Wall Street's estimate, which had pegged ICG's full-year revenue at $78.9 million and its loss at $0.40 per share.

Now what: ICG is a very unusual company that can't be properly assessed in the same way one would assess most other companies. It's never booked an operating profit, and yet it remains enormously profitable on a net basis because of a complex business model that would probably require a separate article to adequately explain to anyone who's never encountered it before. According to ICG's annual report, annual "revenue" has only exceeded reported GAAP net income once since 2009, which makes assessing its real opportunities on the basis of its guidance a bit silly. However, ICG's earnings call did reveal that its core products are all growing their top lines at strong double-digit rates, which is certainly worth some optimism. ICG's shares have nearly doubled during the past year, and have quadrupled in the past five years, so its management must be doing something right.

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Alex Planes 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.