Data-center interconnect specialist Mellanox (NASDAQ:MLNX) announced solid fourth-quarter earnings results on Thursday, sending shares up by more than 5% in the after-hours trading session. 

Let's take a closer look at those results and what has investors so excited going into 2019.

Mellanox Technologies product

Mellanox Technologies makes hundreds of data center products, including circuit boards. Image source: Mellanox Technologies

Capping off a great year

Mellanox turned in revenue of $290.1 million in the fourth quarter, which the company said was up 22.1% from the same period a year ago. Analysts were expecting $285.23 million, so the company's revenue cruised past expectations for the quarter. 

On the earnings per share (EPS) front, things were similarly strong. Analysts had expected the company to deliver $1.30 per share -- up more than 58.5% from the year-ago quarter -- and Mellanox crushed those estimates, bringing in $1.42 in non-GAAP EPS. (Analyst estimates are for non-GAAP EPS.)

The company's full-year results were ahead of expectations, too. Mellanox generated almost $1.09 billion in revenue for the year and non-GAAP EPS of $5.01, ahead of estimates of $1.08 billion and $4.86 per share, respectively. 

A great start to the next year

Generally speaking, investors tend to care more about future performance than they do past results and, fortunately for Mellanox' shareholders, the company looks set to enjoy a strong start to the year. Management guided to revenue of between $295 million and $305 million for the first quarter of 2019, crushing consensus estimates of just shy of $283.2 million. 

What is more exciting, though, is that Mellanox CEO Eyal Waldman said in the earnings release that "[we] expect to carry this momentum into 2019 and deliver another year of healthy, double-digit revenue growth to drive operating margins even higher." 

To be fair, analysts were already expecting the company to turn in "double-digit" revenue growth in 2019 -- consensus currently sits at 12.7% growth for fiscal 2019 -- but it's encouraging to see the company's outlook for the full year, at a minimum, not fall short of analyst expectations.

Moreover, Mellanox's guidance says the company should kick off 2019 with 19.5% growth, against expected 12.8% growth. Since the company is starting off the year guiding so much better for the first quarter than analysts had expected, I expect analyst estimates for both revenue ($1.22 billion) and EPS ($5.94) for 2019 to be adjusted upward. 

Mellanox has been a solid growth story in semiconductors for a while, helped both by growing demand for data-center silicon and through solid technical execution that has allowed it to enjoy strong competitive positions in the segments it participates in. That's supported by the company's robust gross margin percentage, which the company expects to be between 68% and 69% in the first quarter of 2019. That prowess was on display in Mellanox's 2018 results, and if the company meets its 2019 outlook, it'll be evident in its 2019 performance as well.

Check out the latest Mellanox Technologies earnings call transcript.