Financial software company Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) recently impressed investors with strong fiscal second-quarter results. Both the company's revenue and non-GAAP earnings per share for the period easily beat consensus analyst estimates as the key metrics saw double-digit year-over-year growth. Strong results were helped by the company's continued momentum in its small business online ecosystem revenue, which rose 38% year over year. 

As investors look over Intuit's results for its most recent quarter, here's a look beyond headline metrics for the period at some key commentary from management during the company's fiscal second-quarter earnings call.

A small business owner using QuickBooks Online on a laptop

QuickBooks Online. Image source: Intuit.

Online ecosystem growth revenue is paramount

Management continues to believe its small business online ecosystem revenue, or revenue from online small-business and self-employed group offerings, is vital to its growth story.

"We believe the best measure of the health and success of our strategy going forward is Online Ecosystem revenue growth," said Intuit CFO Michelle Clatterbuck during the company's fiscal second-quarter earnings call, "which we continue to expect to grow better than 30%."

The company's online ecosystem revenue rose 38% year over year in Q2. Though this was a deceleration from 42% growth in the first quarter, it was well above management's guidance for online ecosystem revenue to increase more than 30% year over year.

QuickBooks Online sees robust momentum

QuickBooks Online remains a key catalyst for the company's online ecosystem revenue.

"QuickBooks Online subscribers grew 38%," said Clatterbuck, "ending the quarter with nearly 3.9 million subscribers. Growth remained strong across multiple geographies, with U.S. subscribers growing 32% to approximately 2.9 million and international subscribers growing 56% to over 980,000."

Within these subscribers, self-employed QuickBooks Online subscribers grew an extraordinary rate, rising from 489,000 a year ago to 845,000.

Investors should expect Intuit's growth in QuickBooks Online subscribers to decelerate, according to management. This is because the company plans to shift some focus away from new subscriber acquisition to an emphasis on cross-selling additional services.

Intuit's approach to capital allocation

While Intuit pays a dividend, its dividend yield has always been small. Indeed, its forward dividend yield is currently just 0.8%. To be fair, this dividend has seen some rapid growth. But the stock won't be viewed as a serious dividend investment until it increases its payout.

For investors wondering why Intuit pays out such a small dividend, it all boils down to management's capital allocation strategy, which prioritizes business reinvestment and acquisitions over dividends and share repurchases.

Clatterbuck explained:

Our first priority for the cash we generate is investing in the business to drive customer and revenue growth. Next, we consider acquisitions to accelerate our growth and fill out our product roadmap. We return excess cash that we can't invest profitably in the business to shareholders via both share repurchases and dividends.

Specifically, management said it reinvests cash in its business that management believes can achieve a return on investment of 15% or greater. If Intuit can keep finding such lucrative investment opportunities, investors should be in favor or a suppressed dividend in the meantime.