When Citrix Systems (NASDAQ:CTXS) announced mixed third-quarter results a few weeks ago, the stock initially plunged more than 5%. On one hand, the cloud computing and software virtualization specialist beat expectations on adjusted earnings per share, which rose 8% to $0.75. On the other hand, that was largely due to share repurchases as actual net income fell more than 5%. Citrix also fell short of analysts' top-line expectations, with both disappointing third-quarter sales and full-year guidance.

But Citrix stock has largely recovered since then, in part thanks to subsequent color on the report provided by management, who spent roughly an hour speaking with financial analysts following the announcement. Here are five key takeaways from that call.

Core businesses remain weak, but...

We are [...] working to address the softness in the desktop and app virtualization, where new licenses declined year-on-year, impacting revenue growth for the whole company. -- Citrix CFO David Henshall

To be sure, quarterly revenue from Citrix's primary Mobile and Desktop business climbed just 3% year over year to $393 million. And that even includes a 90% uptick in XenMobile sales, which is obviously still just a tiny sliver of its overall business. That said, Henshall elaborated that they continue to execute well in both desktop and app virtualization, winning "virtually every competitive opportunity due to the breadth and performance of XenDesktop with Flexcast." In the end, demand has simply remained limited as Citrix sees customers focus on deploying multiple kinds of new applications -- not just Windows apps, per Citrix's focus -- and slower migration to new platforms.

A new licensing structure holds promise

In June, we introduced the Citrix Workspace Suite, our solution that brings together apps, desktops, data and services under one licensing structure. It's designed for a mid-market, large, and global enterprises [...]. Though still early in the launch, we expect Workspace Suite to drive an uptick in strategic account penetration increasing recurring revenue per customer and further distance ourselves from competitors in the market. -- Citrix CEO Mark Templeton

As evidence of this promise, Templeton also highlighted the fact that, shortly after Workplace Suite's release, Citrix closed "several multi-million dollar deals in the health care and financial services verticals." Despite broader near-term weakness, then, investors should be encouraged Citrix is using this new strategic licensing structure to bolster its leadership position.

Emerging businesses remain strong

Overall, many of our emerging businesses like mobility, data sharing and CSPs delivered strong growth, each increasing more than 50% year-on-year. NetScaler license growth was steady in the low double-digits [...]. -- David Henshall

This echoes Henshall's comments last quarter, when he said Citrix's strongest growth would come from its networking, mobile platforms, and data sharing businesses. Once again, it's a question of just how long it takes for these relatively small segments to meaningfully contribute to Citrix's overall growth. However great their performance is now, investors should continue to closely monitor the progress of these outperforming emerging businesses.

Customers love Citrix's complete mobile solution

[W]e continue to set the bar in the enterprise mobility market with MBM, mobile apps, virtual apps and data all in a unified secured solution. 75% of our XenMobile customers have opted for this complete EMM edition showing the value of our integrated offering versus stand-alone MDM technologies. -- David Henshall

We should note Citrix stated last quarter's complete mobile solution figure sat at 80%. Of course, at this early stage, the sequential decline could simply be the result of a few customers opting out. In any case, that three out of four customers still opt for Citrix's complete mobile solution shows XenMobile's impressive 90% year-over-year growth is no fluke.

Margins should trend upward next year

Given our recent bookings volatility, we are going to wait until our next call to discuss the specific revenue outlook for 2015. However, we will continue to optimize our business and margin expectations and we will be targeting an increase in adjusted operating margin of 100 basis points for next year. -- Mark Templeton

To elaborate, Henshall later in the call described that margin improvement is "more of a target objective," and explained that the performance taken into account for their 2015 plan will be "largely driven by revenue upside." That said, Henshall also stated the 100 basis point increase in operating margin is one they expect to be able to deliver on for "multiple years into the future" given a combination of revenue gains and operational efficiencies. If one thing is sure, it's that this is great news for patient, long-term investors.

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