What happened

Shares of Cloudera (CLDR) soared 24.1% in the month of September, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, as the stock recovered from an early year swoon and the big data processing company reported expectation-beating second-quarter results.

Cloudera was coming off a rough first half of 2019, so its better-than-feared quarter gave sentiment around the stock a boost. Also helping was a big investment from Carl Icahn, who took an 18% stake in the company in July and received two board seats in August.

Bespectacled woman looking up at wall of computer screens with illuminated data and graphs on them.

Cloudera beat expectations in Q2. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

In the recently reported quarter, Cloudera reported revenue of $196.7 million, which beat estimates by $14.4 million, and an adjusted (non-GAAP) loss of just $0.02 per share, surpassing expectations by $0.08. Perhaps more importantly, the company also raised its full-year guidance to a range of $765 million to $775 million, up from a previous range of $745 million to $765 million.

There's been an improvement in its fortunes after the introduction of the Cloudera Data Platform in June, which adapts Cloudera's previously on-premises offering to the cloud in a software-as-a service model. Importantly, the Cloudera Data Platform works across the different public clouds, private clouds, and on-premises data centers, which the company is banking will lure customers away from the big cloud players, all of whom have their own in-house offerings.

Other highlights for the quarter include a small acquisition of Arcadia Data, a big data analytics company that accelerates the time it takes to glean insight, and an expanded partnership with IBM (IBM 0.13%), which management said yielded positive results in the quarter.

Now what

One point of speculation is that Icahn's presence may lead to a sale of the company. After all, Cloudera's private competitor MapR was scooped up by HP Enterprise (HPE 0.93%) in August. On the earnings release, Cloudera's management said it had adopted the open source licensing model set by Red Hat, which management praised as the industry's best practice regarding open-source technology. Red Hat was, of course, acquired by IBM this year, and Cloudera would make for a much smaller and digestible acquisition.

But even if there is no sale of the company, Cloudera looks to be rebounding from a year-long swoon, as it counterpunches against the cloud giants. Just remember that while Cloudera has a lot of potential, it is still a bit risky, as it's up against some very big competitors.