What happened

Shares of Aspen Technology (NASDAQ:AZPN) soared on Thursday after the asset optimization software provider reported its fiscal fourth-quarter results. Aspen beat analyst expectations across the board, and it issued solid guidance for fiscal 2021. The stock was up about 29.5% at 11:30 a.m. EDT today.

So what

Aspen reported fourth-quarter revenue of $199.3 million, up 1.8% year over year and about $24 million higher than the average analyst estimate. License revenue was down slightly to $147.2 million, while maintenance revenue jumped 15.7% to $45.7 million. Annual spend, defined as the annualized value of all term license and maintenance contracts, totaled $593 million at the end of the quarter, up 9.6% since last year.

A rising chart.

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"Customers in our core markets continued to make significant investments in AspenTech products despite the challenges facing their own businesses," said CEO Antonio Pietri.

Earnings per share came in at $1.43, down from $1.49 in the prior-year period but $0.41 higher than analysts were expecting. The company generated $99.5 million of free cash flow in the quarter.

Now what

For fiscal 2021, Aspen expects annual spend to grow by 6% to 9%. Total revenue is expected between $704 million and $754 million, and EPS is expected between $4.29 and $4.83.

Shares of Aspen Technology have taken a beating this year, but Thursday's gain was enough to push the stock into the green. Aspen stock is now up just over 4% since the start of the year.