What happened

Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) shares outperformed a surging market last month. The stock gained 20% compared to a 13% increase in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The rally put the software specialist back in positive territory so far in 2020 while the broader market is down 11% through early May. Shares also trounced the market last year.

A man works with CAD software.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Several aggressive moves by the Federal Reserve eased investors' concerns about a potential financial crisis, and that optimism lifted Autodesk's shares along with the rest of the market.

But the company's positive sales momentum and profitable software-as-a-service operating model have also made it a favorite for investors looking to put cash to work in the recent stock market slump. Autodesk's services are completely digital, after all, and aren't likely to be hurt by the shift toward more remote working across major economies in recent weeks. And almost all of its revenue is subscription-based, which should lessen the impact of any quick demand decline. 

Now what

The software giant is due to post fiscal first-quarter results on May 28, and Wall Street is expecting to see significant growth in sales and profits for the period. Look for CEO Andrew Anagnost and his team to discuss billings trends in key markets like Western Europe, China, and the U.S., along with customer satisfaction metrics like the retention rate.

Cash flow will take on more significance as global economic growth has slowed in recent weeks. And this report will be management's first chance to update their broader outlook, which currently calls for sales growth of between 20% and 22% and free cash flow of roughly $1.6 billion -- up from $1.36 billion in 2019 and $310 million in the previous fiscal year.

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