What happened

Shares of Autodesk (ADSK -1.07%) outpaced the market last month, rising 20% compared to a 3% increase in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The boost extended a significant rally for shareholders, who've seen their stock jump over 40% so far in 2018.

^SPX Chart

^SPX data by YCharts.

So what

Investors celebrated the software specialist's second-quarter earnings report, which was published in late August. That announcement showed a more-than-100% increase in cloud-based subscription services revenue as Autodesk added 119,000 customers to its membership rolls. Expenses increased at a much slower pace, which allowed net loss to narrow to $0.18 per share from $0.66 per share a year ago.

A man working with a computer-aided-drawing program.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Autodesk is expecting to reach positive cash flow for the full year, powered by healthy billings growth of between 16% and 19%. Management still predicts modest net losses as the shift toward subscription services hurts short-term profits.

But, given the recent stock price rally, investors appear to be hoping for major long-term gains there, along with the more predictable revenue that flows from a subscriber base that's sitting at just under 4 million members today.