NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Northrop Grumman (NOC) - Get Report closed Wednesday's session at all-time highs after the aerospace/defense company reported second-quarter earnings that beat expectations.

Northrop began the day with a powerful upside gap, its strongest open in years, that lifted the stock to new July highs. After a brief fade in the very early going, investors rushed back in, pushing the stock well into all-time high territory. By the close, Northrop was the third biggest gainer in the S&P 500, adding 6.2%, and was just above the old highs set in February at $172.30.

In mid-February, Northrop finished off the final leg of a powerful bull leg that began on Oct. 15. The initial leg of the rally carried the stock to new 2014 highs in less than three weeks. The sharp run added 17% to the shares. Northrop consolidated during most of November before surging again in December.

The stock put in its 2014 high on Dec. 23, a gain of almost 30% from the October low. The final leg began in early January, and within five weeks, the stock had surged an additional 17% above the 2014 close. At that point, Northrop Grumman had moved into extremely overbought territory and was overdue for a healthy consolidation.

Northrop held key support near the 2014 high during the stock's five-month consolidation. Since the April/May lows just below $153, the stock has been steadily working higher. Heading into its second-quarter report, the stock had put in back-to-back higher monthly lows, but was still well below the February peak. With Wednesday's earnings-supplied jolt, Northrop has powered past a key level and has left behind layers of support in the process.

The initial layer of support is near $170.50. Northrop's initial July high is just below that level. Wednesday's opening print was $170.60. A more solid support area is near the June high of $166.55. The stock's April high is just below at $165.95.

Patient investors will likely get the opportunity to buy shares near support rather than chasing the stock as it moves further into new all-time-high ground.

Click here to see the below chart in a new window. 

Image placeholder title

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stock mentioned.