What happened

Space imagery specialist Planet Labs (PL 3.06%) reported better-than-expected earnings and announced an acquisition that will broaden its offering. Investors are excited, sending shares of the company up as much as 14% on Thursday.

So what

Planet Labs operates one of the world's largest arrays of Earth observation satellites, selling imagery and other data to corporate and government clients. On Wednesday evening, the company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $0.14 per share on revenue of $53 million. Both results were slightly better than expectations, with analysts predicting a loss of $0.16 per share on revenue of $52 million.

CEO and co-founder Will Marshall said the quarter "capped off an incredible year for Planet," which included broadening some of its key government contracts and new relationships with utilities and other corporate users.

"For the full year, we nearly tripled our revenue growth rate and expanded non-GAAP gross margin by 15 percentage points year over year," Marshall said. "The market for our solutions remains robust, supported by our expanded product capabilities, broad go-to-market reach and the global secular tailwinds underpinning demand."

Planet also announced it has acquired Sinergise, a cloud-based platform that allows customers to process and analyze satellite data.

Now what

Planet Labs forecasts first-quarter revenue of between $51 million and $54 million, which is below the $57.3 million consensus estimate. For the year, the company hopes to generate between $248 million and $268 million in sales. Analysts are in the middle of that range, at $259 million.

That first-quarter estimate is affected by negotiations with a large customer and could offer some upside. But Planet Labs is not forecasting profitability until 2025. The company appears to be heading in the right direction, but investors cheering the results should remain aware that this stock still has a long way to go.