Strong fourth-quarter earnings results propelled Adobe Systems’ stock price (NASDAQ: ADBE) into record territory in after-hours trade on Thursday. In late trade, the price hit $315, just above the all-time high of $313.11 that it touched in July.

The software maker’s revenue for Q4 2019 was $2.99 billion, 21.5% higher than a year earlier and $20 million ahead of consensus estimates. Adjusted EPS of $2.29 were 3 cents ahead of estimates. GAAP EPS of $1.74 were 27% higher for the year and beat estimates by 4 cents.

Adobe earned $6.00 a share for the full year, 15% higher than 2018’s full-year earnings. Full-year revenue was 23% higher at $11.2 billion.


Digital Media ARR continues to grow

During the fourth quarter, the digital media segment accounted for $2.08 billion or 70% of total revenue. Annualized recurring revenue for the segment hit $8.4 billion – approximately 75% of 2019’s total revenue. The digital experiences segment grew 24% year-on-year, accounting for 20% of total revenues.

The gross profit for the year and the quarter were both marginally lower than a year earlier at about 85%. The operating margin for the quarter rose from 29% a year ago, to 32%. For the full year, the operating margin fell from 31.4% to 29.25%. The lower annual operating margin was largely due to an increase in the amortization of intangible assets.

Adobe once again proved the cash-generating machine that it is, with cash flow from operations at a record $1.38 billion. Some of this was used to buy back 2.8 million shares during the quarter, bringing total repurchased shares to 9.9 million for the year.


Bullish Outlook for 2020

Though Adobe’s stock price has tracked the software sector closely, it has outperformed since early November following the Adobe Max conference.

The company’s leadership remains bullish regarding the future. Adobe is aiming to earn $13.15 billion in 2020, an increase of 18% driven primarily by the digital media segment. The company is looking to grow GAAP EPS 23% to $7.40 in 2020.

Adobe guided first-quarter revenue to around $3.04 billion and GAAP EPS to approximately $1.76.

Over the last 6 months, Adobe’s stock price has tracked the software sector closely. However, it has outperformed since early November when several analysts upgraded their price targets following the Adobe Max conference. Sell-side analysts remain bullish on the stock, though several have expressed concern about the valuation.

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