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Splunk Inc. (SPLK) - Get Free Report shares traded sharply higher Friday after the data-focused cloud computing group posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings and lifted its full-year sales outlook.

Splunk said non-GAAP earnings for the three months ending in October came in at 58 cents per share, up 52% from the same period last year and just head of the Street consensus forecast of 54 cents per share. Group revenues also topped estimates, rising 30% from last year to $626 million, thanks for a 40% jump in software revenues -- including license and cloud -- which hit $454 million.

Splunk also lifted its guidance for full-year sales by $50 million to $2.35 billion and forecast final quarter revenues of $780 million with an operating margin of -23%. It's also on track to continue growing its annual recurring revenue by more than 40% after notching a 53% growth rate over the third quarter.

"We believe data is the answer to many of the world's most pressing problems and its greatest opportunities. It also represents a necessary strategy for all organizations to thrive, let alone survive, in this new paradigm." CEO Doug Merritt told investors on a conference call late Thursday. "From improving corporate performance, to optimizing government responsiveness, to fighting crime, to medical research, to firefighting or to the rollout of Porsche's new electric car, we believe every problem is a data problem, and our customers think so, too."

Splunk shares were marked 9.8% higher in the opening half hour of trading to change hands at $138.84 each. That move would extend the stock's year-to-date gain to around 30% and value the San Francisco-based group at just under $21.5 billion.

Rising demand for data-driven insights continues to drive Splunk's performance, and the company's platform has positioned it to leverage data proliferation into revenue growth," said Oppenheimer analysts Hugh Cunningham and Shaul Eyal, who carry a $154 price target and an outperform rating on the stock. 

"We expect Splunk to maintain a strong revenue growth pace for some time to come, and over the medium-term we believe the company should be able to expand margins through operating leverage and efficiency gains," they added.