Pharmacy benefits manager Catamaran Corporation (NASDAQ:CTRX) announced results for the third quarter before the market opened on Thursday. The company has set a consistent trend over the last several quarters for beating expectations. Catamaran didn't disappoint this time around either. Here are the highlights.

By the numbers
Catamaran reported strong top-line growth, with revenue increasing to $5.5 billion in the third quarter compared to $3.6 billion in the same quarter last year. That 53% jump easily beat the consensus estimate of $5.36 billion.

Third-quarter GAAP earnings came in at $82 million, or $0.39 per share, versus $72.9 million, or $0.35 per share in third quarter of 2013. Catamaran announced adjusted earnings per share of $0.58, a 12% increase year over year. Analysts expected adjusted earnings of $0.56 per share.

Gross profit rose by 22% to $351.5 million in third quarter from $287.8 million in the same quarter last year. However, gross profit as a percentage of total revenue fell to 6.3% from 8% reported in the third quarter of 2013.

Behind the numbers
The healthy revenue numbers stem primarily from higher claim volume. Catamaran saw an uptick in claim volume from new client implementations and its specialty drug business. Continued impact from the acquisition of Restat in late 2013 also played a role in the revenue growth.

These same factors helped drive earnings higher as well. However, Catamaran's expenses also increased, offsetting the revenue growth somewhat. Selling, general, and administrative costs shot up nearly 20% year over year due partially to the Restat acquisition.

Catamaran's decline in gross profit margin is something of a good news/bad news story. The good news is that the PBM saw great sales numbers as a result of the contract it won with Cigna (NYSE:CI) in 2013. The bad news is so far that business isn't as profitable.

Looking ahead
The remainder of fiscal year 2014 appears to be shaping up pretty well. Catamaran updated its full-year guidance, bumping revenue projections to a range of $21.1 billion-$21.5 billion. In August, projected full-year revenue was between $20.5 billion-$21 billion.

Catamaran also raised its full-year adjusted earnings guidance to $2.20-$2.25 per share. The company previously projected full-year adjusted earnings of $2.12-$2.22 per share. The average analysts' estimate for the full year was for earnings to come in at $2.21 per share.

Investors reacted positively to the stronger forecast, with Catamaran shares jumping over 9% in early trading. While 2014 hasn't been the greatest year for shareholders up until now, if the good news from third quarter carries over to the next quarter, Catamaran's stock could sail into blue waters headed into 2015.

Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Catamaran. The Motley Fool owns shares of Catamaran. 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.