This quarter was all about constructing the fireworks of the future for Linux vendor Red Hat (NYSE: RHT ) . You don't see much happening at the moment, but all the ingredients for a massive eruption are there.
In its first quarter of fiscal 2009, Red Hat produced $0.08 of GAAP earnings per share on revenue of $156.6 million. That's a 32% sales increase over last year, while profits held steady. But the numbers don't tell the whole story here.
The open-source software veteran released major updates to four of its key products and re-signed every expired contract with its 25 largest subscribers -- for 50% more than the worth of the old deals. It's always cool to see the big boys upgrading their pacts, don't you think? Red Hat continues to invest in its global sales and support infrastructure, funding the growth from organic cash flows.
And if you doubt that the hackeriffic Linux platform is ready for a hard sell into the corporate space, consider that NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX ) now runs its trading operations on Red Hat-powered machines. "Red Hat is as pervasive as water gear," said NYSE CIO Steve Rubinow, according to Red Hat's earnings call comments. "It is part and parcel of everything we do here from a computing standpoint." You can't ask for a stronger endorsement than that, especially since it comes from the traditional-minded Big Board boys at the heart of Wall Street.
Red Hat's efforts to scale up its business model positions the company for years of upcoming growth, at a time when Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) seems to have botched its latest and greatest operating system launch. It also helps non-Windows competitors like Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL ) and Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA ) in a roundabout way, by growing the Linux/Unix market into spaces where you might not have seen them before.
For now, it's all about the enterprise space. But remember that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) ships every Macintosh with a Unix-derivative operating system installed, and common people don't seem to have any problem adjusting to its quirks and advantages. One day, Red Hat will lead an assault on the consumer space, too, and you ain't seen nothing yet. This is a packet of explosive growth just waiting for a spark.