Red Hat's Q4: Misses revenue but wins on earnings

Shares drop in after hours trading as the open source software provider squeaked out solid earnings but missed the revenue target.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Given the heightened interest in putting open source to work for big data analytics in the last few months, many eyes were on Red Hat after the bell today.

The open source company reported fourth quarter earnings of $43 million, or 22 cents a share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were 36 cents a share on a revenue of $348 million, up 17 percent annually.

But Wall Street was expecting Red Hat to report non-GAAP earnings of 30 cents a share on revenue of $349.4 million.

Given the disappointing revenue figure for the quarter, Red Hat shares slipped by up to 11 percent in after hours trading.


In the report, Red Hat chief financial officer Charlie Peters hinted that certain investments might have hindered the software provider's revenue figures -- albeit with a positive spin for long-term goals.

During fiscal year 2013, we invested aggressively in new product areas such as storage, cloud computing, management and big data through new internal initiatives and three acquisitions in the second half of the fiscal year. Despite these investments, we generated over 9% year-over-year growth in non-GAAP operating income and 19% full year operating cash flow growth. These investments enhance our strategic position in the data center and increase our addressable market.

For fiscal 2013 overall, Red Hat reported a revenue of $1.13 billion, up 17 percent year-over-year, with non-GAAP earnings of $1.23 per share.

CEO James Whitehurst also reflected on the quarter in prepared remarks, highlighting new customer subscriptions as a significant growth driver. Subscription revenue for the quarter was $303 million, a 19 percent increase year-over-year.

For FY13, the growth drivers in our business remained intact, driving record annual revenue, billings proxy and total backlog up 17%, 14% and over 19% year-over-year, respectively. Within total backlog, the value of customer contracts to be billed in the future and not reflected in our financial statements increased to over $280 million, or up over 40%, as customers increased their commitments to Red Hat technologies in the data center.

We continued to see momentum with large deals in Q4, closing a record number of deals in excess of $5 million and $10 million. We now provide solutions to over 90% of Fortune 500 companies as well as tens of thousands of smaller companies. New customer additions coupled with renewing and up-selling our existing customer base enabled us to exceed the billion dollar milestone in both subscription revenue and deferred revenues for the first time.

Wednesday's Q4 announcement was fairly uneven in comparison to the December report. Aside from being estimates last quarter, the Raleigh, N.C. corporation simultaneously announced the $104 million cash acquisition of cloud management and automation software provider ManageIQ.

As for the outlook, Red Hat didn't offer guidance. Nevertheless, Wall Street is expecting Red Hat to report Q1 earnings of 32 cents a share on revenue of $366.2 million.

Screenshot via MarketWatch

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