What happened

Shares of Harsco Corporation (NYSE:HSC) rose more than 10% at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday after reporting stronger-than-expected first-quarter results and increasing its guidance for 2018.

So what

Harsco Corporation hauled in $408 million of revenue during the first quarter, which was nearly 10% above the year-ago quarter and almost $17 million more than analysts expected. Earnings, meanwhile, doubled, to $0.22 per share, which beat expectations by $0.03 per share.

The main driver of the year-over-year improvement was the company's industrial segment, where revenue surged 27%, to $84 million, due to increased demand within each of its industrial-product businesses. Metals and minerals revenue also improved, up 7% versus the year-ago period, to $265 million, thanks to higher steel production and service levels. The strength in those two sectors helped offset weaker results in its rail segments where revenue was flat, at $60 million, while earnings declined due to lower equipment and contract service contributions.

Hot steel on conveyor in steel mill.

Image source: Getty Images.

The strong start to 2018 has Harsco Corporation more optimistic about what lies ahead. Because of that, the company increased its full-year outlook for operating income to a range of $165 million to $180 million, up from its prior estimate of $150 million to $170 million. In addition to that, the company authorized a $75 million share-repurchase program, which "demonstrates our confidence in our business strategy and enables us to deliver additional value to shareholders," according to CEO Nick Grasberger.

Now what

With today's rally, shares of Harsco are up an impressive 75% over the past year due to the improvements in its industrial and metals and minerals businesses. While shares could have more upside ahead, especially as the company starts buying back stock, investors might want to consider buying these top stocks instead.

Matthew DiLallo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.