What happened

Shares of Box (NYSE:BOX) beat the market this week, rising 8% through Thursday trading compared to a 1.7% decline in the S&P 500.

The cloud software services specialist reported positive earnings results for the third quarter and lifted its outlook for the full fiscal year.

A person checks their smartphone while sitting at a table with an open laptop in front of them.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Sales through late October rose 14%, the company said on Tuesday afternoon, to mark Box's third consecutive quarter of accelerating gains. Revenue was up 12% in Q2, for context.

In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, CEO Aaron Levie and his team said the gains were mainly due to healthy demand for Box's newest services aimed at easing the transition to remote working. "With Box," he said, "users are more productive, enterprises are more secure, and IT management is simplified and less expensive."

Management highlighted Box's improving net retention rate, which rose to 109% from 106% last quarter, as evidence of the company's success at marketing more of its services to existing customers even as it adds new ones.

Now what

Management raised its 2021 outlook on both the top and bottom lines. Revenue gains are expected to accelerate for a fourth straight quarter in Q4 so that overall sales expand 13% compared to last year's 11% increase.

That pace is modest given the booming rate of expansion in the wider industry. But it still represents improvement compared to Box's previous estimates for the year.

Investors interested in the stock might want to watch the business over the next few quarters for solid signs that it is gaining market share in this crowded industry. In the meantime, the shift toward remote work is likely to continue lifting the businesses of Box and its competitors.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.