A computer display showing Tableau Software's user interface

IMAGE SOURCE: Tableau Software, Inc.

What happened

Shares of Tableau Software (NYSE:DATA) were up 17.3% as of 12:45 p.m. EST Friday after the data-visualization software specialist announced strong fourth-quarter 2016 results.

So what

Quarterly revenue grew 24% year over year, to $250.7 million, including a 14% increase in license revenue, to $152.2 million, and 41% growth in maintenance and services revenue, to $98.4 million. Tableau also added over 4,000 new customer accounts during the quarter, and closed 589 transactions greater than $100,000 (up 42% year over year). On the bottom line, that translated to adjusted net income of $20.7 million, or $0.26 per share, compared to adjusted net income of $26 million, or $0.33 per share in the same year-ago period.

Analysts, on average, were only expecting Tableau to achieve adjusted earnings of $0.13 per share on revenue of $229 million.

"We are seeing strong demand from enterprises that want to deploy Tableau more broadly across their organization, from thousands to tens of thousands of users," added Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky. "Our enterprise customers are making Tableau a mission-critical platform as data becomes more and more essential to their success."

Now what

For the current fiscal first quarter of 2017, Tableau expects revenue between $195 million and $205 million, the midpoint of which represents 16% year-over-year growth, which should result in an adjusted loss per diluted share between $0.08 and $0.15. By comparison, consensus estimates predicted a narrower adjusted net loss of $0.04 per share on lower revenue of $191.7 million.

Finally, for the full year 2017, Tableau anticipates revenue between $850 million and $890 million, or year-over-year growth of 5% at the midpoint, which should translate to roughly breakeven earnings per share on an adjusted basis. Wall Street was looking for 2017 revenue of $865 million, below the midpoint of Tableau's expected range.

To be fair, that full-year guidance isn't dropping any jaws, assuming Tableau isn't under-promising with the intention of over-delivering. But given its relative outperformance in the fourth quarter on both the top and bottom lines, nobody would be surprised if that happens. It's equally unsurprising to see Tableau Software stock rallying today.

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.