RHT Chart

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What: Shares of Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) gained 10.1% in October, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. Here are the key moments that allowed the veteran open-source software vendor to stay just ahead of the market in a generally positive trading month.

So what: There really weren't any massive Red Hat wins in October -- just a long series of smaller victories..

For instance, the company announced the acquisition of software development and IT automation specialist Ansible near the middle of the month. That small but sensible tuck-in buy gives Red Hat another selling point for large-scale development and systems management clients.

Elsewhere, analyst firm Drexel Hamilton started coverage of Red Hat with a "buy" rating and a $90 price target. More recently, Deutsche Bank followed Drexel's script to a T as the company "stands out to us as being on the right side of the big public cloud and open source trends."

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Now what: That's the general gist of Red Hat's recent gains. Share prices have soared 31% higher over the last 52 weeks, far ahead of the general market's relatively flat year-long chart. The company has beaten Wall Street's sales and earnings targets in each of it last eight reports, quietly soaring on a general market trend toward accepting Linux and open-source software as a standard toolkit for enterprise computing.

That's life as a Red Hat investor. Business keeps improving and share prices keep on climbing, although the first trend is much smoother and sharper than the second one. Five years ago, Red Hat shares traded at 37 times trailing free cash flows, and that ratio has fallen all the way to 24 today. To put these numbers into perspective, consider the fact that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) shares are sold at 19 times trailing cash flows right now. In other words, Red Hat's former nosebleed valuation is becoming downright value-packed nowadays.

Speaking of Microsoft, by the way, Red Hat Enterprise Linux recently became an officially supported operating system on Redmond's Azure cloud platform. That announcement bridges decades of bad blood between the two companies, and completes Red Hat's coverage of all the major cloud provider services.

Just another minor victory in a long chain of small trophies. But these tiny wins add up in the long run.