What happened

Shares of Ultra Clean Holdings (NASDAQ:UCTT) are cleaning up on Wall Street today. The provider of semiconductor manufacturing equipment reported strong third-quarter results on Wednesday night, sending the stock as much as 14% higher Thursday morning. By 11:50 a.m. EDT, shares had retreated slightly to a gain of 12.8%.

So what

Ultra Clean's sales rose 8.6% year over year, landing at $254 million. Adjusted earnings fell 30% to $0.21 per share. Though one metric moved up and the other one down, they both exceeded Wall Street's consensus expectations of earnings near $0.16 per share on sales in the neighborhood of $245 million.

An unfinished semiconductor wafer is being procesed by several robotic tools.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Management also set up optimistic Q4 guidance targets, stating that the market downturn that has been weighing on Ultra Clean's results in recent quarters appears to be over.

This stock has now nearly tripled from its 52-week lows. Even so, Ultra Clean's shares still look reasonably affordable at a price of just 7.3 times trailing free cash flow. If there really is a significant upswing just around the corner, as Ultra Clean's management said, it could be a good idea to start a position in the stock today.

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.