What happened

Truckmaker Navistar (NYSE:NAV) saw its stock surge as much as 12.6% in early trading Tuesday after reporting a blowout fiscal fourth quarter. Even after the initial wave of enthusiasm had passed, Navistar still ended the day up 7.4% -- and no wonder.

The $1.36 per share that Navistar reported for fiscal Q4 profits was more than twice the $0.65 that Wall Street had predicted  it would earn. Sales for the quarter -- $2.6 billion -- likewise easily beat analysts' consensus estimates for $2.3 billion.

Truck driving into sunrise

Navistar forecasts a brighter tomorrow -- and today was pretty sunny, too. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

It was a fine quarter for Navistar objectively  speaking as well. One year ago, you see, the company was losing money -- $0.42 per share. That makes last quarter's $1.36-per-share profit all the more astounding. To top it all off, though the company had been losing money for the year up until this point, its staggering profit for the final period was enough to lift Navistar out of the red, and put it firmly in the black with a full-year profit of $0.32 per share.

Revenue for the year was $8.6 billion.

Now what

Looking ahead to fiscal 2018 (which has already begun for Navistar, if not yet for the rest of us), management predicts that the company will ship between 345,000 and 375,000 units of Class 6, 7, and 8 trucks and buses, and book between $9 billion and $9.5 billion in revenue on those sales.

Management gave no GAAP guidance for what its profits might look like, however, saying only that its "adjusted EBITDA" will land between $675 million and $725 million. That's a company-defined term, and so open to interpretation. (And those adjusted numbers are usually much higher than actual GAAP net income). All that being said, Navistar said it earned adjusted EBITDA of $582 million in fiscal 2017, so whatever this stuff is, Navistar should be earning 20% more of it in fiscal 2018.

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