When last we checked in with Adobe, it had updated its outlook for the first quarter, predicting bigger revenues and profits -- something that has become a welcome habit over the past few quarters. Today, it blew that update out of the water, beating the top end of the target by $18 million to post $423 million in revenue, a 43% increase year over year. Earnings of $0.50 per share beat the high end of the guidance target by 20%, and they were an incredible 127% better than last year's Q1.
Citing record revenues for its high-end electronic document services and continuing strength in sales of its Creative Suite -- which includes updated versions of perennial favorites like Photoshop and Acrobat, along with my favorite layout program, InDesign -- Adobe raised its 2004 outlook. It hopes for revenues near $1.5 billion and diluted EPS between $1.40 and $1.46. The targets represent 15% revenue growth and 30% earnings growth over last year.
The only nits to pick with Adobe might be its reluctance to share the wealth with stockholders. With $200 million in cash, $1 billion in short-term investments, and very healthy cash flows, you'd think it could up its dividend just a stitch from the current $0.0125 a quarter.
Despite the 8% jump today, putting shares near $40 per stub, Adobe trades at only 27 times forward estimates. That looks like a reasonable deal given its growth, and if an economic upturn can turbocharge its already fast-growing e-document business, the rewards will be even better.
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