Red Hat CEO: 'This Is a Good Market For Us'

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) --Despite Red Hat ( RHT) shares seeing slight pressure in early Tuesday trade, CEO Jim Whitehurst says that this is a great environment for the Linux software provider.

"This is a really good market for us," Whitehurst noted, in a phone interview. "There is relative uncertainty right now, so budgets are tight, and the basic cost saving stuff we do is working well in tight markets." The CEO also pointed to the shift to cloud computing, particularly on open source, adding that Red Hat's well positioned to deliver growth for investors.

Shares of the Raleigh, N.C.-based company are up 35% year-to-date, and Whitehurst said that the stock's performance is based on strong growth and solid guidance provided in March. Wall Street analysts have been predicting that Red Hat's organic growth would eventually slow to that of GDP growth, currently at 1.7%. Red Hat, however, has been able to continually deliver growth of 20% or more on a constant currency basis. "Our job is to beat the fade," Whitehurst noted. "If we can continue to grow 20% every year, that will drive the stock."

Whitehurst noted that when the company surpassed a $1 billion annual revenue run rate, he said the next goal would be $3 billion in five years. While this isn't guidance, the CEO said that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to get to $3 billion is more than 20%.

Red Hat reported second-quarter non-GAAP earnings of $54.9 million, or 28 cents a share, on revenue of $322.6 million for the three months ended in August, up 20% in constant currency.

The company missed analysts' estimates by a penny per share, as costs rose due to the acquisitions of Polymita and Fusesource that were completed during the quarter. Red Hat also expects to see material revenue from last year's acquisition of Gluster over the next 12 months. The company will provide an updated forecast in roughly 60 days.

The volatile currency markets impacted Red Hat's top-line this quarter, as revenue only grew 15% year-over-year in U.S. dollars, but 20% in constant currency. Whitehurst said that even though Red Hat is well-hedged and currency issues don't affect cash flow and the bottom line, they do affect top-line growth to some extent. "Our overall growth rate looked a little weaker than it was, with subscriptions growing 17%, versus 22% in constant currency," he said.

Whitehurst also applauded recent moves by the ECB and the Federal Reserve to stabilize the currency markets. "The ECB working to stabilize the Euro is a good thing," he said.

Interested in more on Red Hat? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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