What happened

Shares of oil and gas oil-field services TETRA Technologies (NYSE:TTI) are up 18.5% as of 1:15 p.m. EDT.

So what

TETRA reported its fiscal first-quarter earnings earlier this morning. The company booked a $0.02-per-share loss on sales of $168 million in the quarter. Sales were down only 1% year over year, while the loss was much narrower than the $1.11 per share it reported in the year-ago quarter.

Relative to expectations, TETRA's revenues fell a bit short of the $168.6 million that analysts had predicted. On the other hand, its loss seems to have been quite a bit better than the $0.12 consensus estimate. I say "seems" because analysts often give guidance based on pro forma numbers. In that regard, TETRA reported pro forma losses of $0.10 a share, which while better than estimates, isn't much better than delivering a $0.02 loss when a $0.12 loss had been expected.

Motorbike riding an up arrow on a stock chart.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Regardless of that quibble, investors seem generally impressed with what TETRA reported. Nor do investors seem wary of the fact that it declined to give guidance for the rest of this year. As management explained, giving a GAAP earnings estimate for this year would require it to reveal "forecasted information for CSI Compressco," TETRA's indirect, wholly owned subsidiary.

As for Wall Street, analysts are still expecting TETRA to lose money this year, despite the first quarter's improved performance. The latest estimates call for TETRA to lose $0.21 per share on about $779 million in revenue by year-end.

Why investors think that prospect justifies an 18.5% jump in stock price is anybody's guess.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.