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 unmanned-aircraft designer AeroVironment (Nasdaq: AVAV) were flying up into the stratosphere today, gaining as much as 21% on heavier-than-average volume.

So what: Most investors that are thinking about earnings at all are looking ahead to the upcoming start of second-quarter reporting season. But for AeroVironment shareholders, last night marked the release of fiscal 2011 fourth-quarter results. And what results they were. Revenue clocked in at $106 million, easily besting the $99 million that Wall Street was looking for. Earnings per share were $0.79, an 11% increase from last year and a well above the $0.69 that analysts were projecting. 

Now what: Wait, where are you going? There's more, and it's even better! The company said that backlog at April 30 was $82.9 million, a 15% increase over where it was at the same time last year. Management also provided guidance for fiscal 2012. At the respective midpoints of management's guidance range, the company is expected to show $1.32 in earnings per share on $329 million in sales. Analysts were pegging earnings per share at $1.25 and revenue at $321 million.                     

Want to keep up to date on AeroVironment? Add it to your watchlist.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of AeroVironment. 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 have a financial interest in 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 Facebook. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.