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What: Shares of Axcelis Technologies (NASDAQ:ACLS), a provider of solutions and equipment to the semiconductor industry, jumped as much as 14% Friday and were up about 7% around 3:30 p.m. after the company on Thursday reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates.

So what: Expectations were extremely low going into earnings. Analysts were expecting $51.6 million in revenue and a loss of $0.03 per share, but the company surprised on all fronts. Axcelis posted revenue of $62.5 million, up 6.7% year-over-year, along with a very small net income that rounds down to a break-even quarter on a per-share basis.

Axcelis's business can be volatile, as evidenced by both a 62% jump in revenue and a 254% increase in system sales compared to the third quarter. For the full year, Axcelis reported an $11.2 million loss, an improvement over the $17.1 million loss during 2013.

Now what: Axcelis is expecting its momentum to continue into the first quarter. The company has guided for revenue between $65 million and $70 million, compared to $60.8 million during the first quarter of 2014. In addition to growth, the company expects to post a small operating profit, between $1 million and $3 million, which would translate into EPS of $0.02 on the high end. Operating profit during the first quarter of 2014 was just $326,000.

Axcelis's results have been extremely volatile over the past decade, posting losses in the majority of years, so this momentum may end up being short-lived. For now, though, the stock is enjoying the spoils of a solid quarter.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.