Shares of Qualtrics International (XM) surged as much as 21.1% early Tuesday morning. The extreme gains didn't last, cooling down to a 9.7% increase by 2:40 p.m. ET, but that's still an impressive upswing. The quick gains were powered by a robust third-quarter report after Monday's closing bell.
Qualtrics provides tools to help businesses improve the experiences of their customers, employees, and suppliers, among others. Third-quarter sales rose 39% year over year to $378 million, with 83% of this revenue generated by subscription-style contracts, up from 81% a year ago. Adjusted earnings landed at $0.04 per diluted share, up from $0.01 per share in the third quarter of 2021.
The analyst consensus pointed to a net loss of roughly $0.02 per share on top-line sales near $356 million. Furthermore, Qualtrics' management provided fourth-quarter targets above the current Street view.
Many analyst firms responded to the surprisingly strong results by lowering their price targets on the stock. But they left their buy ratings untouched, and the lower price targets still sat well above Qualtrics' current prices. This mixed reaction reflects the company's muscular results in a period of tough macroeconomic challenges.
The end result of strong results amid a tough economy is a billings increase of just 17%. Since this forward-looking metric stands at roughly half of the reported revenue, top-line growth should slow down somewhat over the next few quarters.
Qualtrics remains a classic growth stock, with strong sales growth while most of the profit numbers are printed in red ink. The market value for stocks like this comes largely from the company's ability to deliver high-octane revenue growth. Therefore, it's no surprise to see investors calm down a bit after the morning's sudden adrenaline rush.
Sitting 75% below its 52-week highs even after Tuesday's big jump, Qualtrics looks like an interesting idea in the arena of high-growth tech stocks. But the shares still trade at five times trailing sales -- not exactly cheap even by those lofty standards. Take it easy with this volatile ticker, dear reader.