What happened

Shares of specialty metal parts maker Arconic (NYSE:ARNC) rose a swift 14% as market trading got underway on May 4. By 10 a.m. EDT, the stock was still holding on to a roughly 11% gain. The story here today is all about earnings.

So what

Arconic reported first-quarter 2021 earnings before the opening bell. Revenue came in at $1.7 billion, up 4% year over year. However, that figure was also a 15% advance over the fourth quarter of 2020, so it represented a material sequential improvement on the sales front. On the bottom line, Arconic posted net income of $0.46 per share, up from $0.42 in the year-ago period. Both revenue and net income figures handily beat Wall Street consensus estimates. It's not surprising that investors were upbeat.  

A man sitting in front of computer screens with stock information on them

Image source: Getty Images.

However, there's more to the story. In addition to having a good first quarter, Arconic updated its full-year guidance. Management increased its top-line outlook from a range of $6.6 billion to $6.9 billion to a higher $7.1 billion to $7.9 billion. It also upped its adjusted EBITDA range in the low single digits. So there was a second positive for investors to digest that suggests the year is shaping up to be stronger than originally expected.

Now what

Although Arconic highlighted continued headwinds in the downtrodden aerospace sector, thanks to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the rest of its business appears to be doing reasonably well. It makes sense that investors were pleased with the first-quarter update. That said, aerospace is an important end market and one that long-term investors should monitor closely as the year progresses. Without a rebound in that space, Arconic's business really can't get back to "normal."   

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.