Daktronics (Nasdaq: DAKT) is soaring to high heavens today. The expert in building display screens for uses outdoors crushed every expectation in this morning's first-quarter report, and share prices are up by more than 17%.

The $100.5 million in revenue was an 11.5% drop year-over-year -- but earnings improved from $0.03 per share to $0.06 per share, and the analyst crowd expected much worse. Even better, free cash flows expanded from $3.8 million to $11.9 million, or nearly five times the reported net income. This is a very Foolish way to run a business, not to mention an effective way to keep tax payments low. And the backlog of unfilled orders stands at $144 million, which is a 13% sequential increase and a 27% year-over-year boost. This means there's plenty of fresh revenue coming Daktronics' way in the coming quarters.

Three and a half years ago, I warned you this stock was way overheated after returning more than 25 times your investment in only ten years. The share price stood at four times trailing sales and 62 times earnings; Daktronics was ripe for a fall. Even after today's stellar gains, Daktronics is worth about 24% of what it was back then. The price-to-sales ratio now stands at 0.98.

The company still has no pure rivals to speak of. Its largest challenge comes from conglomerate Mitsubishi, but also faces off against piecemeal big-screen efforts from the likes of Panasonic (NYSE: PC) and Toshiba. Sony (NYSE: SNE) apparently didn't like the market much either, as it has moved away from competing with Daktronics. Daktronics might see more challenges in its transportation sign business, but it's ruling the roost on bigger installations.

Standard & Poor's can't find any direct rivals either, but has to resort to FLIR Systems (Nasdaq: FLIR) and Orbotech (Nasdaq: ORBK) for comparison purposes. That's not even close, because Daktronics does neither thermal imaging systems nor the advanced flat-panel display inspection seen at Orbotech.

The moat here is intact, and perhaps we've seen the worst of Daktronics' Icarian fall. Would you buy this peerless company today? Go tell it in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.