NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Some companies you just don't trade. Buying their stock, holding the shares, and waiting for the company's management to deliver on their promise makes more sense. That's something TheStreet founder Jim Cramer is known for saying.
Well, enterprise and cloud services giant Red Hat (RHT) - Get Report , which delivered its ninth consecutive earnings beat Wednesday, is one of those companies. Trading its stock no longer makes sense.
Indeed, between the fact that it has just boosted its stock buyback plan to $500 million, and the fact that, as the world's largest provider of open-source solutions, Red Hat has posted revenue growth for 52 straight quarters, there's more risk in selling the shares than holding them. The new buyback plan replaces its prior $300 million authorization that still had $80 million remaining. For fiscal year 2015, the company bought back $535 million worth of shares.
Red Hat's new buyback plan -- once completed -- will take almost an additional 4% of its outstanding shares off the market. What's more, the just-ended quarter marked Red Hat's twelfth consecutive quarter of revenue growth in the mid-to-high teens. That's not something to be taken for granted with any company, given the revenue struggles so many businesses have faced due to the strong U.S. dollar.
Though Red Had did feel a 600 basis point negative impact on revenue when adjusting for currency issues, its fourth-quarter revenue, at $464 million, was still up 16%, beating the average analyst estimate by more than $7 million. That's despite the fact that the company generates roughly half of its revenue in foreign markets, where the strong dollar has devalued sales.
Red Hat, headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is navigating the current rough waters better than expected. And the company, whose customers include Adobe Systems (ADBE) - Get Report and Verizon (VZ) - Get Report, isn't using the strong dollar as a reason to lower expectations.
For its fiscal first-quarter, which will end in May, Red Hat projects adjusted earnings per share of 41 cents on revenue of between $469 million and $474 million. This translates to about a 20% jump in earnings, while revenue -- assuming a mid-range number of $471.5 million -- would be up 11%.
Analysts polled byThomson Reuters are expecting 41 cents per share on revenue of $475.6 million. For the full year, Red Hat projects its adjusted profit to be in the range of $1.79 to 1.82 per share, while revenue is projected to be between $1.99 billion and $2.02 billion. That's fairly well in line with analysts' projections of $1.84 per share on revenue of $2.02 billion. But while the high-end of Red Hat's full-year adjusted earnings target 2 cents per share lower than analysts' projections, investors should focus on some other metrics that suggest the company's guidance may be conservative.
For full-year 2015, Red Hat recorded a total backlog of more than $1.86 billion, which is up almost 20% above full-year 2014 levels. The backlog is the value of Red Hat's subscriptions and service contracts that customers can't cancel. These include total deferred revenue that the company has billed along with the value of future billable customer contracts not reflected in its financial statements.
Coupled with its deferred revenue balance was $1.48 billion, which climbed 15% year-over-year and rose 14% since last quarter, this means Red Hat won't have to work as hard to grow future revenues. This gives the company some flexibility to lower cost of sales and other revenue-related expenses, which should boost its margins, thus sending its profits higher.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.