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: Shares of laser specialist IPG Photonics (Nasdaq: IPGP) were shooting higher today, gaining as much as 13% in intraday trading after the company reported fourth-quarter results. IPG's big day may also be behind the gains for fellow laser makers Newport (Nasdaq: NEWP) and Coherent (Nasdaq: COHR).

So what: IPG's earnings per share made a huge year-over-year jump from $0.07 to $0.56, topping the $0.53 that Wall Street analysts were looking for. The profit gains were driven by an 86% year-over-year increase in sales and a gross margin that expanded from 36.7% to 55%. China was a key piece to the growth puzzle during the quarter; sales there leapt 256% from last year.

Now what: Management's guidance didn't disappoint, either. The company is estimating first-quarter earnings per share in a range of $0.37 to $0.44 on sales of $89 million to $95 million. That compares very favorably with the $0.37 in EPS and $87 million in sales analysts had estimated. But to see IPG beating targets is no surprise to my fellow Fool Eric Jhonsa -- when the company preannounced fourth-quarter results this month, Eric said that even with the strong run-up in shares, IPG could "deliver more positive surprises to Wall Street over the course of the year." It looks like the company is getting a fast start on that prediction.

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IPG Photonics is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. The Fool owns shares of IPG Photonics. 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.       

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or on his RSS feed. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.