Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE ) can Photoshop its second-quarter results all it wants. I'm still going to be disappointed by these numbers, even if you gloss over a few of the biggest blemishes.
The maker of software for creative professionals reported a 19% year-over-year revenue gain at $887 million and $0.40 in GAAP earnings per share -- up from $0.25 per share last year.
Growth like that would be awesome if the reporting company was a stagnant giant like Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) or IBM (NYSE: IBM ) . Those big boys are so massive that they pretty much have to buy their growth these days rather than earning it organically.
But for Adobe, it's a letdown. The annual sales growth in the last three quarters was 41%, 34%, and 37%, in that order, so a mere 19% is a very weak trend.
And where management waxed poetic in recent earnings reports about demand for its software products, there was nary a product name mentioned this time in the press release. Instead, CEO Shantanu Narayen focused on "the product mix and geographic diversity of our business." Again, that's fine for a global powerhouse like IBM or Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , but less so for an inveterate but still not-too-huge operation like Adobe, where the "proliferation of digital content" is supposed to drive explosive growth even here in the U.S.
Color me unimpressed by Adobe. Is the company lowballing us to set itself up for a buyout by some rich rival in digital media, like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) or Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) ? Nah, too much conspiracy theory for my tastes. All the same, I wouldn't be surprised to see this corner of the market consolidate a bit -- starting with Adobe.