What happened

Virtualization software specialist VMware (NYSE:VMW) outperformed the market through the first six months of 2018 by gaining 17% compared to a 2% uptick in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The rally added to an impressive run in 2017 to generate significant long-term returns for shareholders of this cloud-services company.

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So what

Most of this year's rally came following VMware's fiscal first-quarter report that showed solid business results. A 21% spike in licensing revenue helped overall sales rise 14% even as operating margin improved to 19% of sales from 15% a year ago. "The strong start to fiscal 2019 has us well positioned to execute on our strategy," said CEO Pat Gelsinger in late May.

A customer service representative at work in front of a computer.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Investors are still digesting news that Dell, which controls the majority of VMware's stock, is returning to the public markets. But while there's uncertainty about how that transaction will impact the share price, there's more clarity about VMware's upcoming operating results.

Gelsinger and his team expect revenue to improve by 12% this year, thanks to their deepening portfolio of virtualization solutions. Non-GAAP operating margin, meanwhile, is projected to reach 33.6% of sales, up slightly from last year's 33.2% result.