Paychex (Nasdaq: PAYX) reported earnings on Dec. 20. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Nov. 30 (Q2), Paychex missed slightly on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue increased, and earnings per share expanded.

Gross margins increased, operating margins expanded, and net margins contracted.

Revenue details
Paychex tallied revenue of $546 million. The 17 analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ predicted revenue of $552 million. Sales were 6.6% higher than the prior-year quarter's $512 million.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions.

EPS details
EPS came in at $0.39. The 21 earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ predicted $0.38 per share. GAAP EPS of $0.39 for Q2 were 5.4% higher than the prior-year quarter's $0.37 per share.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Figures may be non-GAAP to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 69.7%, 80 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was 39.9%, 10 basis points better than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was 25.7%, 50 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods.

Looking ahead
What does the future hold?

Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $571 million. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is $0.37. (There are 17 revenue estimates and 20 EPS estimates.)

For the full year ending 2012, the average estimate for revenue is $2.2 billion. The average EPS estimate is $1.51. (There are 19 revenue estimates and 21 EPS estimates.)

Investor sentiment
The stock has a four-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 1,434 members out of 1,499 rating the stock outperform, and 65 members rating it underperform. Among 558 CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), 550 give Paychex a green thumbs-up, and eight give it a red thumbs-down.

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.