What happened

Shares of Align Technology (ALGN 0.10%) had jumped 13.7% as of 10:45 a.m. EST on Thursday. The big gain came after the company announced great fourth-quarter results after the market closed on Wednesday.

So what

Just how great were Align's fourth-quarter results? It's always a good sign when a company refers to record levels as much as Align did in its latest update.

Smiling young woman holding a clear aligner

Image source: Getty Images.

The company's revenue in the fourth quarter soared 28.4% year over year to a record-high $834.5 million. This was driven by record clear aligner sales of $700.7 million. 

Align's bottom line also improved significantly. The company reported adjusted earnings per share in the quarter of $2.61, up from $1.76 in the prior-year period. This blew past the Wall Street consensus adjusted EPS estimate of $2.14.

What's especially notable about these results is that they came even with the pandemic still a big factor. CEO Joe Hogan said, "Despite the swift onset of the pandemic and uncertainty throughout 2020, we didn't halt our plans or change our strategy for continued growth."

Now what

One great quarter all by itself isn't a reason to buy the healthcare stock. It's important to look at Align's results in the context of its longer-term prospects. The good news is that those prospects look great, too.

Hogan said that Align "exited the year [in 2020] stronger than we started, and 2021 is off to a great start." The company's Invisalign clear aligners are gaining popularity with both adults and teens. Align continues to pick up momentum in international markets. It also is launching new products that should increase its market opportunities.

Align appears likely to break those records set in the fourth quarter as it reports its quarterly results in 2021.