What happened

Shares of specialty foods distributor Chefs' Warehouse (NASDAQ:CHEF) are the toast of the town today. After the company reported market-thumping sales and earnings for its fiscal third quarter, its stock is up a whopping 10.9% as of 12:45 p.m. EDT.

Analysts had forecast the company would earn $0.10 per share (adjusted) for the quarter, on sales of only $450.1 million, but the company reported a profit of $0.12 per share on sales of $484.3 million instead.  

Salmon fillet on a plate in the middle of a table.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Sales at the company surged 91% year over year en route to beating the consensus numbers. And while the company's earnings as calculated according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) weren't quite as good as the pro forma number, the GAAP $0.09 per share that Chefs' Warehouse earned was still a whole heck of a lot better than the $0.31-per-share loss it suffered one year ago.

In a press release, CEO Chris Pappas credited a "return to offices, travel and hospitality" for the increase in activity that "contributed to a steady increase in weekly sales as the quarter progressed," noting that after a tough 2020, Q3 sales in 2021 are now back above 2019 levels. 

Now what

Wall Street is hoping for more good news to come, forecasting profits of $0.20 per share in the Q4 now underway, and a 70% improvement in sales year over year.  

Nevertheless, Chefs' Warehouse wasn't prepared to make any promises that this strong growth will continue into Q4 or beyond. "Due to the continued uncertainty regarding the pace of broader economic recovery and the timing of event and travel related business activity, the Company will not be providing guidance for 2021 at this time," warned management in a press release.

Those cautionary words don't seem to be scaring investors away from the stock today, however.

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