Looking at the overnight stock chart for Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN), you'd be well within your rights to question Mr. Market's sanity. Nuance fell hard after reporting its fourth-quarter results, but is up by more than 4% in market-hours trading. In early action, the stock spiked as high as 12% above last night's close or 21% above the after-hours bottom.

The early pessimism sprung from management comments about timid consumer demand and the coming year's growth shifting toward its closing months. The reported results for the fourth quarter were nothing to sneeze at: Sales grew 18% year over year to $310 million. Earnings once again skimmed close to the break-even point at $0.01 per share, but when you start backing out non-cash adjustments like $40 million in depreciation and amortization, you end up with an impressive $102 million of free cash flow. That's just how Nuance rolls. I really don't see much to complain about in the first place.

But then there was the early-morning bump. First of all, Nuance announced a price-checking voice-search partnership with Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) right at the edge of the holiday shopping season. That's a nice little project, but hardly enough to sway a river of Doubting Thomases from the previous night's doom-and-gloom party.

No, the real boost came from overheated rumors that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) might be interested in buying the company. In fact, Apple co-founder and samba hoofer Steve Wozniak was caught on video apparently saying that Apple already did acquire the company. Whether that was a slip-up or a case of him being misquoted in reference to Apple’s acquisition of Siri, I'm not buying the idea that Apple is buying Nuance.

You'd think that sort of earth-moving event would rate a mention in the earnings release, for one thing. Moreover, Nuance is a member of the Open Handset Alliance -- it would be a bit awkward for Steve Jobs to buy his way into Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android steering committee at this point. Apple and Nuance are partners, but then again, Nuance also has to maintain relationships with Apple rivals, including Samsung, Motorola (NYSE: MOT), and Nokia (NYSE: NOK). I think it's clear that Nuance would prefer to remain independent.

The stock has now climbed a market-stomping 30% over the last year, so investors shouldn't have much to complain about, either. Follow the rise of this voice-recognition and character-recognition software mogul by making an "outperform" call on the stock in your CAPS portfolio. I did it three months ago, and the pick is doing its part to keep my all-star status intact.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers choice. Apple, Amazon.com, and Nuance Communications are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Nuance Communications is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.