What happened

Shares of computer-aided design-software specialist Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) rose 24% last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

ADSK Chart

ADSK data by YCharts.

Zooming out a bit, the stock has trounced the market so far in 2017, rising over 40% compared to an 8% gain for the S&P 500.

So what

Shareholders can thank strong first-quarter results for May's rally. Yes, revenue fell 5%. However, that's good news for this business because the sales drop was driven by rising demand for the company's subscription-plan services. These carry lower initial purchase prices, but provide higher lifetime value to the company. Autodesk gained 233,000 customers during the quarter to push its subscription total to 1.32 million.

Computer-aided design software at work.

Image source: Getty Images.

"We're executing well and making significant progress on our business model transition," CEO Andrew Anagnost said in a press release. As evidence of that transition at work, executives noted that recurring revenue passed 90% of sales, to more than double the rate from its prior perpetual license-based business model.

Now what

Anagnost and his team are forecasting revenue of between $488 million and $500 million for the second quarter. The range was significantly higher than consensus estimates at the time, so it's no wonder the stock rose after the results were released. For the full fiscal year, Autodesk is predicting slight revenue gains, to $2 billion. But Wall Street is more interested in subscriber growth right now, and that figure is set to rise by at least 20%.

Demitrios Kalogeropoulos 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.