What happened

Shares of Stagwell (STGW -0.50%) were leaping 9.7% higher at 10:49 a.m. ET in morning trading Thursday after the marketing and communications company reported fourth-quarter earnings results that beat analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines.

Stagwell posted adjusted earnings of $0.22 per share on revenue of $708.2 million, handily thrashing Wall Street's forecast of $0.15 per share on $701.3 million.

Pen tracing a stock chart higher.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Chairman and CEO Mark Penn says Stagwell finished the year "with industry-leading double-digit growth, strong margin expansion, record free cash flow, record earnings per share, and a net debt ratio significantly below our target."

It's also jumping on the artificial intelligence bandwagon, with Penn saying Stagwell has "built game-changing AI and AR-driven products." Last July, it acquired Apollo Program, which it describes as a real-time, AI-powered software-as-a-service platform for marketing.

Now what

Stagwell said it was doubling its stock buyback authorization to $250 million. After hitting a low of below $5 per share, the marketing firm's stock is now 55% above that level.

Stagwell is looking for 7.5% to 10% organic revenue growth in 2023, which would be almost half the 14% growth it achieved at the low end of its guidance with adjusted earnings between $0.90 per share and $1.05 per share. That would be flat to up 16% compared to fiscal year 2022.

Stagwell paid out $33.1 million in stock-based compensation in 2023, or 121% of the $27.3 million in net income it earned.