What happened

Shares of Stryker (NYSE:SYK), a medical device giant, rose as much as 12% in early morning trading on Wednesday as the market responded to the company's fourth-quarter earnings report. The stock was up about 9% as of 10:20 a.m. EST.

So what

Here's a review of the key numbers from the company's fourth quarter:

  • Revenue rose 9.4%, to $3.8 billion. That was slightly ahead of the $3.74 billion in revenue that Wall Street was expecting.
  • Adjusted earnings per share grew by 11.2%, to $2.18. That was also nicely ahead of the $2.15 that market watchers were looking for. 

Here's a review of the key numbers from 2018:

  • Revenue grew 9.3%, to $13.8 billion.
  • Adjusted EPS (earnings per share) grew 12.6%, to $7.31.
Hands of a man in a business suit counting money.

Image source: Getty Images.

On the call with investors, CEO Kevin Lobo stated that 2018 was a "stellar" year for the company: 

We had an excellent finish to 2018 with the best organic sales growth in a decade, and strong adjusted earnings performance. Our multi-year momentum reflects the strength of our diversified model, progress on globalization and outstanding people and culture. We are well positioned to deliver for our customers, employees, and shareholders in 2019 and beyond.

That optimism allowed the company to share upbeat guidance for the year ahead:

  • Organic sales growth is expected to be between 6.5% to 7.5%. 
  • Adjusted EPS in the upcoming quarter is expected to land between $1.80 to $1.85.
  • Adjusted EPS is expected to be between $8.00 and $8.20 for the full year. The midpoint of that range is comfortably above the $8.01 that Wall Street is currently forecasting.

Given the expectation-topping results and bullish guidance, it isn't hard to figure out why shareholders are having a good day.

Now what

Stryker isn't a flashy company but has a long history of cranking out steady growth. The company has also paid out a growing dividend since 1991, which is a long-enough streak to qualify as a Dividend Aristocrat.

With organic growth on the horizon and income coming in, there are many reasons for investors to take a closer look at Stryker stock. Shares are currently trading hands for about 22 times full-year earnings estimates, which I think is a perfectly fair price to pay for such a steady performer.

Check out the latest Stryker earnings call transcript.

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.