Red Hat: S&P Gainer

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Red Hat ( RHT) was the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 on Thursday.

The S&P 500 dropped 2.26 points, or 0.16%, to 1,403.28.

Shares of Red Hat rose 19.54% to $61.43 on volume of 15.5 million, nearly 10 times the issue's trailing three-month daily average of 1.6 million.

After Wednesday's closing bell, the open source software company reported fourth-quarter earnings of $36 million, or 18 cents a share, down from year-earlier earnings of $38.2 million, or 19 cents a share.

On an adjusted basis, Red Hat earned 29 cents a share in the quarter, 2 cents ahead of Wall Street's consensus view.

The company also announced a $300 million share repurchase program on Wednesday.

The stock hit a 52-week high Thursday of $61.71. Its 52-week low of $31.77 was set on Aug. 19.

Red Hat shares trade at an estimated price-to-earnings ratio of 43X; the average for software companies is 31.3X. For comparison, both Intuit ( INTU) and Adobe Systems ( ADBE) have lower forward P/Es of 17.8X and 12.9X, respectively.

Sixteen of the 23 analysts who cover Red Hat rate it at buy. Six analysts give the stock a hold rating and one rates it at sell.

TheStreet Ratings gives Red Hat a B grade with a buy rating and $59.53 price target. The stock has risen nearly 50% year to date.

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