What happened

Shares of Health Catalyst (HCAT -1.25%) charged sharply higher Wednesday morning, surging as much as 13.7%. The rally seemed to lose stream as time when on, and as of 11:51 a.m. ET today, the stock was up 1.7%.

The catalyst that sent the healthcare data and analytics company higher was its quarterly financial results, which were better than investors had hoped.

So what

For its fourth quarter, Health Catalyst generated revenue of $69.2 million, up 7% year over year. This resulted in an adjusted loss per share of $0.05, much improved from $0.19 in the prior-year quarter. 

To give those numbers context, analysts' consensus estimates were calling for revenue of $68.3 million and an adjusted loss per share of $0.11, so the company easily cleared both bars. 

The results were driven higher primarily by technology revenue that climbed 11%, though professional services revenue -- which tends to be lumpy -- declined 1%. Overall, the company's operating loss of $36 million improved by 18%, while its net loss improved 27%.

Health Catalyst also announced that Matthew Kolb, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Carle Health, would be joining its board of directors effective July 1. Furthermore, Carle Health will deepen its investment with a "meaningful purchase" of Health Catalyst shares on the open market.

Now what

For the first quarter, management is guiding for revenue of $71.3 million, an increase of roughly 5% year over year, along with adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) in a range of $1 million to $2.5 million, an increase of 161% at the midpoint. The forecast was slightly below expectations of $71.7 million, and investor enthusiasm faded in the wake of its tepid top-line guidance. 

In the earnings release, CEO Dan Burton noted that he had been buying shares over the past several months, estimating that he has become a top-20 shareholder. While there are plenty of reasons executives sell stock, there's only one reason they buy: because they believe the shares will go higher.

Investors should keep an eye on this up-and-comer, but given the current uncertainty, any share purchases should be a small part of a balanced portfolio.