What happened

Shares of certified space stock Maxar Technologies (MAXR) jumped 15% through 11 a.m. EDT on  Thursday, even though the company reported a slight earnings miss for its fiscal third quarter 2021 Wednesday night.

Analysts had forecast Maxar would earn $0.20 per share on sales of just under $449 million. As it turned out, Maxar missed both marks, earning only $0.19 per share and booking just $437 million in sales -- but investors don't care.  

Rocket blasting into space above a cloud layer with moon visible in sky.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

You can probably thank the analysts at R.W. Baird for that. Stepping in quickly to comment on the results, Baird upgraded Maxar shares to outperform after the Q3 earnings news, arguing that at $31 per share (down 5% over the past year), the stock looks safer to own, and that the visibility management has given into its plans to begin launching WorldView Legion Earth imaging satellites has "de-risked" the stock.  

In the analyst's view, these facts are more important than, for example, the fact that Maxar missed revenue, or that revenue was essentially flat versus a year ago, or that earnings missed expectations ... or that earnings declined 86% year over year!  

Now what

Is it right to ignore all these negatives? Maybe, if you're focused on the future -- because in the future, Maxar notes that "with solid bookings in both Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure generating a book-to-bill over two times," revenue is poised to take off once the WorldView Legion constellation is in orbit. And on that score, Maxar CEO Dan Jablonsky assured investors that they can "expect the launch of the first two satellites in the March to June 2022 window."

As these birds take off, enter orbit, begin snapping pictures for Maxar's defense and other clients, and Maxar begins collecting payment for those pics, Baird predicts that by 2023, Maxar should enjoy "a materially improved balance sheet, expanding EBITDA, interest and capex savings leading $4+ in FCF/per share," notes StreetInsider.com today. 

With free cash flow already close to $30 million for the past 12 months, Maxar looks all ready to make those promises come true.