What happened

Shares of TrueBlue (TBI -0.38%) traded up more than 20% on Tuesday after the staffing company reported better-than-expected earnings. The company sees signs that business is recovering, and that has investors excited.

So what

TrueBlue, which provides specialized workers for a range of industries, reported first-quarter adjusted earnings of $0.25 per share, easily topping expectations for a $0.06 loss. Revenue came in at $458.7 million, slightly ahead of the $450 million estimate.

A shop owner holding a "hiring" sign.

Image source: Getty Images.

TrueBlue shares lost nearly half their value in the early days of the pandemic. The company specializes in providing on-demand temporary workers for labor, construction, hospitality, manufacturing, warehousing, and transportation, among other industries, and as those sectors shut down due to COVID-19 demand for staffing went away with them.

The company in its quarterly report indicated that after a difficult 2020, conditions have begun to normalize.

"We are seeing encouraging new business wins and recovery of existing client volumes, including some of the markets that were hit the hardest last year," CEO Patrick Beharelle said in a statement. "Our focus on efficiently managing costs while ensuring we continue to invest in sales resources and digital strategies has allowed us to accelerate our strategic priorities and emerge stronger as the economy begins to shift back to growth."

Now what

TrueBlue said it sees second-quarter revenue up between 7% and 12%, implying $490 million to $515 million in total sales. That's ahead of the $440 million consensus estimate, and is likely fueling at least some of the stock's gains on Tuesday.

We're reopening into a tight labor market, and with businesses still nervous about what the future holds with the pandemic and perhaps unwilling to aggressively load up on new hires. That should play into TrueBlue's strength as a provider of temporary workers. The market is excited about the opportunity up ahead.