What Qlik's Fantastic Quarter Really Means

Shares of Qlik Technologies (NASDAQ: QLIK  ) are soaring today, jumping as much as 21% overnight on massive trading volume.

Last night's fourth-quarter report provided plenty of fuel for the fires under Qlik. Sales rose 27% year over year to $137.5 million; non-GAAP earnings climbed 9% to $0.25 per share. Both numbers were comfortably ahead of analyst expectations.

Moreover, management's guidance for the coming year also looked strong. At the midpoints of published target ranges, Qlik would beat the current Street view by 7% on the bottom line and 4% in terms of sales. That divergence also points to stronger margins than analysts were looking for.

CEO Lars Bjork reported strong demand for Qlik's business intelligence tools, which will drive growth in 2013. He will manage the company for top-line growth first and foremost, with margin improvements by way of cost savings where he finds opportunities. Make no mistake: This is very much a growth stock today.

The report's rosy market view sent shock waves across the data analysis software sector. TIBCO Software (NASDAQ: TIBX  ) gained 4.5% on no news of its own. MicroStrategy (NASDAQ: MSTR  ) jumped 3.4%.

These companies are head-to-head rivals in Qlik's business intelligence market, and investors are taking this report as a sign of strong quarters sectorwide. That makes sense, because Bjork spent plenty of time on the conference call discussing a strong demand environment but didn't claim any market share gains against competitors. TIBCO's report is still several weeks away. MicroStrategy also showed strong sales but paired them with weak profits. That company isn't exactly famous for its tight execution.

All three of these stocks tie into the big data megatrend, with varied degrees of success. I placed my bet on business intelligence in December, when I bought some TIBCO shares at a fantastic price. Qlik definitely belongs on my watchlist, though -- and probably yours, too.

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