What happened

Pegasystems (NASDAQ:PEGA) shareholders are beating a down market this year. Their stock rose 27% compared to a 4% decline in the S&P 500 through the end of June, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The enterprise software specialist's shares had been down by 20% during the market swoon in March, but have climbed back to new highs with the latest rally.

A man sitting behind a computer screen.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Investors found plenty of news to celebrate in Pega's fiscal first-quarter report, which ran through late March and covered the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in key markets like Europe and North America. That announcement showed a 21% increase in contract value, which management says is the best indicator of long-term sales growth. Revenue rose 25% and net loss improved to $25 million from $29 million a year ago.

Now what

With nearly all of its 2020 revenue already booked, CEO Alan Trefler and his team are feeling confident that they'll hit their growth goal despite economic disruptions brought on by the pandemic. Investors are even more excited about the prospect of COVID-19 accelerating the enterprise shift toward digital management platforms. That move has helped boost Pega's client base over the last few years, which should support a return to sustainably positive earnings over time.