Software maker Autodesk (ASDAQ: ADSK) released strong 4th quarter earnings on Thursday, beating estimates and bringing full-year EPS to $1, versus a $0.48 loss for the previous year. Despite issuing weaker guidance for the current quarter, the stock opened 2.9% higher on Friday after releasing earnings, before falling sharply as the market digested the results.
Autodesk’s Earnings By The Numbers
Quarterly non-GAAP EPS were $0.46 on revenue of $737.3 million, versus analyst forecasts of $0.42 on revenue of $707.3 million. GAAP EPS were $0.29 up from a $0.79 loss in the 4th quarter of 2017.
The company’s results reflected a far healthier financial position, with free cash flow of $294 million generated for the year. Over 95% of total revenue consisted of recurring revenue. The company also managed to grow total subscriptions 13% to 4.2 million, and average revenue per subscriber showed healthy growth of 17%.
New acquisitions contributed $27 million to ARR (annual recurring revenue) and $7 million to total revenues. The acquisitions also added $12 million to expenses. Overall, there is a clear growing market for Autodesk’s product suite. Management pointed to AutoCAD expertise being featured among the fastest growing skills among technology job searches and the fact that Upwork rates Revit among the top 15 hottest skills for U.S. freelancers.
2019 Guidance Starts With Q1 Disappointment
The company is clearly focused on building a strong subscription and cloud-based business model and on delivering products to the industries where it sees growth going forward. In particular, its current focus is on growing market share in the construction industry.
Guidance for the current quarter was the disappointing part of an otherwise upbeat set of results and statements. First quarter EPS were guided at $0.44 to $0.48, versus the $0.57 Wall Street analysts have been expecting. Revenue for the same period was guided at $735 to $745 million, versus the $724 million consensus estimate.
Autodesk is looking for non-GAAP EPS of $2.71 to $2.90 for the full 2019 fiscal year and hopes to increase full-year revenue by 26-28%.
That range puts the forward price multiple at 55 to 60. Whether or not Autodesk can grow earnings enough to justify that sort of multiple is debatable. The company’s management has just guided the next quarter lower, reflecting higher than anticipated expenses.
This illustrates that despite the strong position the company is in, it does face several risks with regard to costs and profitability. The current share price may be a little rich given those risks. While 12-month guidance was optimistic, there may not be much certainty in those forecasts given they are already falling short of analyst expectations.
Autodesk’s Current Stock Price Suggests Holding
Autodesk has a strong portfolio of products targeting growing areas of the economy and enjoys a market leader position in several of those industries. It is also in the process of transitioning to a more resilient and profitable business model.
The company looks like it has a bright future, but the riskier outlook suggests there may be better opportunities to buy the shares over the next year. For investors who bought in at lower levels there is no reason to dump the stock, but there’s also no reason to rush out and buy the stock at current levels.