Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: RailAmerica (NYSE: RA) popped 10% in intraday trading today after fourth-quarter EPS of $0.38 ($0.33 from continuing operations) spanked the consensus estimate of $0.11. 

So what: Revenue increased 17% from the year-ago quarter, with carloads up 4.4% and average freight revenue per carload up 8.1%. Excluding unusual items, operating income grew 35% year over year.

Now what: This 2009 IPO is leveraged to an improving economy and is working to increase operational efficiency. While there was no guidance, management stated, "We had a strong finish to 2010 and are well positioned for further progress as we move into 2011. ... We intend to build on this solid base during 2011 as we continue to leverage a slow, but improving economy, continuous improvements in productivity, and the effective deployment of capital." That said, the stock's forward P/E ratio of 20.9 times is a steep 42% premium to the railroad industry's 14.7 times.

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Fool contributor Cindy Johnson does not own shares of any company named above. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.