Why Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Stock Just Jumped 17%

By Rich Smith Markets Fool.com

What happened

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Shares of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions (NASDAQ: KTOS) are charging skyward today, up 17.1% as of 2 p.m. EDT.

So what

This being earnings season on Wall Street, you might suspect that an earnings report had something to do with Kratos' stock movement -- and you're right. Yesterday after close of trading, Kratos reported its first-quarter 2017 earnings. Revenues climbed 9.7% versus last year's Q1 to $153 million. However, Kratos earned no profit during the quarter, losing $0.13 per share instead.

That being said, Kratos expanded its gross profit margin significantly -- up 340 basis points, to 26.9%. Despite higher operating costs, this left the company with an operating profit for the quarter. Interest on debt and a one-time charge to earnings for extinguishing some debt were the factors that pushed Kratos into the red on a net income basis.

Kratos' bull run continues. Image source: Getty Images.

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Now what

Kratos management thinks it's still on course to hit its previous guidance numbers. Accordingly, management is reiterating its promise to book revenues of between $170 million and $176 million in Q2 (currently underway), and $700 million and $720 million this year.

Management did not give guidance for GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) profit, because it does not expect to earn any. For what it's worth, though, management did say that "adjusted" earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA, a very non-GAAP metric) will range from $8 million to $12 million in Q2 and from $52 million to $54 million for the year as a whole.

That's not a lot of help to investors trying to fix a valuation on the stock. It does, however, at least tell us that Kratos expects to grow (some form of something distantly related to) earnings over the course of the year. If the company is expecting to end the first half of 2017 with about $21 million in adjusted EBITDA, but to end the year with $52 million or more, this implies that the second half will see $31 million or more in adjusted EBITDA booked.

So I guess that's progress of a sort. I'm not sure it's progress sufficient to justify a 17% jump in the stock price, but I suppose that's in the eye of the beholder.

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Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.