Shares of Ciena Corporation (NYSE:CIEN) rose 13.8% in December, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, after the telecommunications networking equipment specialist reported solid fiscal fourth-quarter 2016 results.
Nearly all of Ciena's rise last month came on Dec. 8, after the company announced that quarterly revenue had climbed a modest 3.5% year over year, to $716.2 million, while adjusted net income rose to $69.4 million, or $0.44 per share, up from $67.3 million, or $0.42 per share in the same year-ago period. Adjusted gross margin also improved 70 basis points year over year, to 44.5%. Interestingly, those results were mixed relative to expectations; analysts' consensus estimates called for higher adjusted earnings of $0.46 per share on roughly the same revenue.
Even so, Ciena management focused on the good, noting that fiscal 2016 marked the company's seventh straight year of outgrowing its overall market while steadily improving operating results.
Ciena also told investors it expects fiscal first-quarter 2017 revenue of $615 million to $645 million, with adjusted gross margin remaining in the mid-40% range. By comparison, Wall Street was looking for first-quarter revenue at roughly the midpoint of that range.
"We believe the combination of our leading technology strategic investments, global scale and business diversification will enable us to continue to take market share and drive operating leverage in fiscal 2017," added Ciena CEO Gary Smith.
In the end, Ciena's results weren't jaw-droppingly good. But it's hard to blame the market for bidding up the price of Ciena shares as the company continues to take market share and grow faster than its peers, especially in these early stages of its long-term story. So as long as Ciena continues that trend -- and even with Ciena stock up 18% over the past year as of this writing -- I think investors should be more than pleased with its position today.