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: It's earnings season, folks, and the natives are restless ... in a good way. This morning, investors in Navigant Consulting (NYSE: NCI) awoke to find their shares worth 15% more than they had been when they went to bed. The first-quarter earnings report, released this morning, showed Navigant growing its revenues by 10% and its profits per share by a whopping 36%.

So what: The numbers beat analyst estimates handily.

Now what: But the optimism is overdone. Consider that even though Navigant earned $0.03 more than it was "supposed" to earn in Q1, management didn't so much as budge its guidance for the full year. It's still calling for revenues to max out at $760 million, with "adjusted" earnings of no more than $0.77 per share.

Worse, the number that really matters in the earnings report -- the amount of free cash flow generated in the quarter -- got worse instead of better. Whereas one year ago, Navigant burned $24 million in cash, Q1 2011 saw Navigant burn more than $25 million. Call me a skeptic, call me a Fool, but to my mind that's no reason at all to bump up the stock price 15%.

Can Navigant hold onto its gains, Rich's skepticism notwithstanding? Add it to your watchlist, and find out.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own (or short) Navigant Consulting. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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