Adobe's second-quarter results sure look healthy: Sales grew 34% year over year to $943 million and GAAP earnings jumped 16% to $0.28 per share. This was better than expected, and the stock traded down into the earnings report last night. Forward guidance was cautious, yet strong, but Adobe's shares are more than 4% cheaper today.
The simple explanation for that dichotomy, in my eyes, is that the lady doth protest too much. Management spent plenty of time on the conference call explaining away the impact of the Apple scuffle, and I don't think investors are buying that story.
"As devices start to ship with Flash during the rest of the year, those that don't have Flash on their smartphones will wish they did," said CEO Shantanu Narayen. The player itself is free, and Adobe's Flash money comes from authoring tools and support services. The ability to create Flash applications is a selling point for many of Adobe's big, bad Creative Suite applications, new versions of which drove this quarter's sales increase. Take away that unique feature, and competing products from Microsoft
Narayen wants to stress that Adobe's tools also create content in formats other than Flash, so creative workers will still have reasons to buy Adobe software even if that particular platform goes to an early grave. Yes, but Adobe's job then becomes proving that what the company offers is better than the competition in some fundamental, sales-increasing way. And the way the market reacted to the rainbows and unicorns springing forth from Adobe's garden tells me that they can't do it.
Does Adobe have any real selling points left in a worst-case scenario, where you take Flash out of the picture? Would a hobbled Flash cause Creative Suite buyers to scale down to cheaper solutions in a meaningful way? Discuss in the comments box below.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Apple and Adobe Systems are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of and has written covered calls on Autodesk. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.