Source: Illumina 

Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) reported its fourth-quarter financial results after the market closed on Tuesday. Shares rose 1.2% in after-hours trading following the announcement. What did the market focus on with the gene sequencing leader's results? 

By the numbers
First, the numbers themselves looked really good. Illumina's revenue jumped 32% to $512 million from the $387 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2013. The average analyst's estimate had called for revenue of $507.65 million.

Fourth-quarter GAAP earnings came in at $153 million, or $1.03 per share. Non-GAAP earnings were $129 million, or $0.87 per share. That reflects a 98% year-over-year increase. It also handily beat the consensus analyst estimate of $0.78 per share.

Gross margin rose during the fourth quarter of 2014 to 75.1% from 66.9% in the same quarter in 2013. Illumina achieved this through the strong revenue growth but also saw expenses increase significantly as well. The company reported research and development expenses of $142.9 million compared to $76.7 million in the prior year period. Selling, general and administrative expenses for the fourth quarter were $122.2 million compared to $111.6 million during the same quarter of 2013.

These financial results shouldn't have caught anyone by surprise. Illumina's CEO, Jay Flatley, provided a sneak peak at the company's fourth-quarter performance at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference held in San Francisco last week.  

Behind the numbers
Several star performers drove Illumina's solid fourth-quarter results. The company's massive power HiSeq X Ten genomic sequencing system has proven to be a game changer in the industry by sequencing genomes for only $1,000 each. Illumina has enjoyed so much success with the system that it has launched a less-powerful version called the HiSeq X Five.

Source: Illumina

Illumina's NextSeq 500 also appears to have made a solid contribution to the company's fourth-quarter earnings beat. So far, the desktop sequencing system looks to be an even bigger success story than its MiSeq predecessor. During the JP Morgan conference, Jay Flatley indicated that orders for the NextSeq 500 have been on par with the less-expensive MiSeq.

While detailed numbers by product weren't released in the earnings announcement, the older MiSeq surely still played an important role in Illumina's solid quarter. The same can be said for consumables for all of the company's systems. 

Looking ahead
Illumina also confirmed guidance for the 2015 fiscal year that was initially provided during the JP Morgan conference. The company expects revenue growth of 20% and non-GAAP earnings per share between $3.12 and $3.18. Analysts are more optimistic, with an average earnings estimate of $3.20 per share.

This growth certainly seems achievable right now. Illumina continues to introduce new products that hold the potential to drive revenue and earnings higher. The company has forged key relationships with other organizations such as their deal with Lockheed Martin to work together on providing genomics solutions to provide personalized health care for national populations in developing countries.

The biggest question is whether Illumina's growth will justify its high price-to-earnings multiple. If the company continues to perform into 2015 as it has in the last couple of quarters, that answer could be "yes" for many growth-oriented investors.