What happened 

Shares of Allegheny Technologies (NYSE:ATI) jumped as much as 17.8% in trading on Tuesday after the company reported first-quarter 2020 earnings. At 2:25 p.m. EDT today, shares of the specialty metals company were still up 15.8% and seemed to be holding on to the gains for the day. 

So what

Quarterly revenue was down 5% versus a year ago to $956 million, although it was flat when accounting for divested businesses over the past year. Net income fell from $56.5 million a year ago to $21.1 million, or $0.17 per share. Adjusted earnings, which pull out one-time items, were $0.20 per share, up from $0.12 a year ago. 

Rolled metal products piled in a large warehouse.

Image source: Getty Images.

Analysts were only looking for revenue of $936.7 million and adjusted earnings of $0.11 per share, so results were well ahead of expectations, and that's why the stock is popping today. 

Now what

First-quarter results were better than expected, but the rest of the year is uncertain, which will likely be a common theme this earnings season for industrial stocks. Management said it didn't know what impact COVID-19 would have on the business and pulled guidance given that uncertainty. While we may not know what the rest of the year looks like, today's news was positive. That's better than most companies are reporting, and has pushed shares higher for now.  

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.