What happened

Ocean-going bulk shipper Safe Bulkers (NYSE:SB) reported its fiscal Q1 2018 earnings results on Tuesday -- an "earnings beat" that nudged the company's shares up 2%. But it took until Thursday for the real good news to arrive. Today, all of the sudden, the stock jumped out of its berth and closed 12.2% higher.

So what

Safe Bulkers says it earned $0.03 per share last quarter -- a penny better than Wall Street had expected. "Net" quarterly sales of $43.5 million likewise edged out estimates. 

These sales, by the way, sailed (sorry, couldn't resist the nautical pun) 31% higher than in last year's first quarter. As for the company's profit, although it was small, $0.03 per share was still a much better result than last year's $0.07 per-share loss.

Dry bulk ship offloading cargo

Safe Bulkers stock delivered the goods this earnings season. Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Management at Safe Bulkers seemed moderately pleased with the results, observing that "revenues continued to improve supporting gradual increase in our profitability." Going forward, management did not give earnings guidance for the rest of the year, but it did advise that it plans to use its strengthening profits "to further improve our capital structure and deleverage in forthcoming quarters."

With long-term debt declining from $541.8 million to $514 million over the course of the quarter (a decrease of 5%), management is already matching actions to words. Seeing that may be the reason investors are expressing more confidence in the stock today.

Rich Smith 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.