An expectations-beating earnings report helped send Orbital Sciences (NYSE:OA) shares into... orbit... Thursday.
Reporting $0.26 per share in profits for its fiscal third quarter 2013, on $322 million in revenues, the company enjoyed an immediate bump in share price. Shares closed at $22.72 a stub, up 4.4% for the day.
Analysts cited on Yahoo! Finance had expected Orbital to report higher revenues ($360 million), but lower profit ($0.23 per share). The company's ability to earn more, on less revenue, thus came as something of a pleasant surprise.
Also pleasing was the company's confirmation that it generated positive free cash flow of $31.5 million in the quarter, a reversal of last year's Q3 free cash flow tally of negative $20.8 million.
Commenting on the results, Orbital CEO David W. Thompson explained that "reduced satellite production activity" was the cause of the weaker-than-anticipated revenue, yet the company still managed to generate "good profit margins and strong free cash flow in the third quarter." Thompson added that Orbital took in "about $450 million in new orders and option exercises, boosting year-to-date new business volume to approximately $1.75 billion."
Last year, Orbital recorded sales of only $1.4 billion for the entire year.
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Orbital Sciences. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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