Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) is no stranger to exceeding expectations with its quarterly results. Now the big drugmaker has done it again. Bristol reported its third-quarter financial results before the market opened on Thursday, and shares popped over 6% on the company's strong numbers. Here are three things investors really need to know about Bristol's stellar third-quarter performance. 

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1. Opdivo and Eliquis are rocking

Third-quarter revenue jumped 21% year over year to $4.9 billion. Two drugs particularly stood out as superstars -- Opdivo and Eliquis.

Opdivo is currently approved by the FDA for treating four types of cancer: non-small-cell lung cancer, metastatic melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, and classical Hodgkin lymphoma. Sales for the drug during the third quarter totaled $920 million. That more than tripled the $305 million made by Opdivo in the same quarter last year.

Eliquis wasn't too far behind Opdivo. The blood thinner, which is prescribed to reduce the risk of stroke and blood clots in people with irregular heartbeat not caused by heart valve problems, saw sales of $884 million in the third quarter, a 90% jump from the prior year period.

These impressive numbers for Opdivo and Eliquis were in a league of their own, but Bristol enjoyed success with several other drugs as well. Sales for cancer drug Yervoy increased 19% year over year to $285 million. Another cancer drug, Sprycel, posted third-quarter sales of $472 million, up 15% compared with the prior-year period. Sales for rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia increased 18% to $572 million. Empliciti, which won FDA approval to treat relapsed multiple myeloma in November 2015, chalked up sales of $41 million.

2. Pinching pennies while raking in dollars works wonders

If investors liked Bristol's revenue growth, they had to love the company's earnings growth. Bristol reported third-quarter earnings of $1.2 billion, or $0.72 per share. That reflected an increase of around 70% from earnings of $706 million, or $0.42 per share, posted in the prior-year period.

On a non-GAAP (adjusted) basis, Bristol's earnings in the quarter were $1.3 billion, or $0.77 per share. In the third quarter of 2015, the company's non-GAAP earnings stood at $648 million, or $0.39 per share.

Strong revenue helped improve earnings, but another critical factor was that Bristol-Myers Squibb did a great job at controlling costs. Marketing, selling and administrative expenses fell 3% from the prior-year period, to $1.1 billion. Research and development costs were also $1.1 billion, up by only 1% compared to the third quarter of last year. Total expenses increased by 9% year over year. Anytime a company can grow revenue by double-digit percentages and keep costs to a single-digit percentage increase, it's guaranteed to post great earnings growth like Bristol did. 

3. The future looks bright

Based on the exceptional performance in the third quarter, Bristol-Myers Squibb increased its full-year 2016 guidance. The company now expects GAAP earnings per share between $2.62 and $2.72, up from the previous range of $2.43 to $2.53.

Full-year 2016 non-GAAP earnings per share are expected to be between $2.80 and $2.90. Bristol's previous guidance projected non-GAAP earnings per share of $2.55 to $2.65.

Next year also looks to be solid. Bristol anticipates 2017 GAAP earnings per share between $2.47 and $2.67, with non-GAAP earnings per share between $2.85 and $3.05.

Opdivo will continue to be key to the company's future. Although the results from a clinical study of the drug as a first-line treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer were disappointing, Bristol remains optimistic about Opdivo.

Some of that optimism stems from possibilities of combining Opdivo with other drugs. Bristol is currently testing Opdivo with its own Yervoy. The company also recently partnered with Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) to evaluate Opdivo in combination with Nektar's NKTR-214, an experimental cancer therapy. Bristol and Nektar have initiated a phase 1/2 clinical study and ultimately plan to evaluate the combo in treating seven potential indications.