What happened

Shares of nuclear components and fuel supplier BWX Technologies (NYSE:BWXT) jumped in Tuesday morning trading, and are up 11.9% as of 11:45 a.m. EST.

So what

Expected to report $0.37 in pro forma profits for its fiscal fourth quarter, BWX delivered a positive surprise to investors last night, reporting profits of $0.46 (pro forma) and $0.34 net (under GAAP -- generally accepted accounting principles). This was a nice change in comparison to 2015's Q4, in which the company had earnings per share of $0.00. Sales increased 11% year over year to land at $403.9 million.

For the full year, BWX said its profits came to $1.76 per diluted share, a 34% increase.

USS Columbia (SSBN 826)

BWX Technologies has contracts to help build the Navy's new ballistic-missile submarine. Image source: U.S. Navy.

Now what

"BWXT closed an outstanding 2016 with an exciting fourth quarter," commented executive chairman John A. Fees, "successfully delivering on our commitments to our customers and our shareholders."

Additionally, the company acquired the General Electric (NYSE:GE) joint venture GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada Inc., which BWX has renamed "BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada Inc." With this new business in-house, management predicts that BWX will grow to $1.6 billion or even $1.7 billion in revenues in 2017, and earn profits of anywhere from $1.85 to $1.95 per share (pro forma).

Furthermore, BWX is predicting "low double digits" profits growth over the next three to five years, as it executes on its Navy contract to help outfit new Columbia-class SSBNs and Virginia-class fast attack submarines. That's significantly faster growth than the 7% growth rate Wall Street has been expecting to see. Whether it's fast enough to justify the stock's current 23.2 price-to-earnings ratio, though, probably depends on precisely how low those double digits turn out to be.

Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.