What: Shares of enterprise-software provider MicroStrategy (NASDAQ:MSTR) soared on Thursday following the release of the company's fourth-quarter earnings report. Despite a year-over-year decline in total revenue, MicroStrategy beat analyst estimates and reported a double-digit rise in license and subscription revenue. At 11 a.m. ET, the stock was up about 20%.
So what: MicroStrategy reported quarterly revenue of $143.5 million, down 4% year over year but a few million dollars higher than the average analyst estimate. Revenue from product licenses and subscription services rose 20% year over year to $49.1 million, while revenue from product support and other services declined 5.8% and 27.8% respectively. License and subscription services accounted for 34.2% of total revenue during the fourth quarter, up from 27.4% during the prior year period.
Net income came in at $3.38 per share, up from $1.99 per share during the fourth quarter of 2014. Despite the lower revenue, a higher gross margin and lower operating expenses led to the rise in earnings. The company cut back on spending dramatically during 2015, with sales and marketing spending down 34%, and R&D spending down 37%. This led to full-year earnings of $9.18 per share, up from just $0.44 per share during 2014.
Now what: MicroStrategy's revenue has been essentially flat for the past five years, and while earnings rose dramatically during the fourth quarter and the full year due to cost-cutting, the company will need revenue growth in order to grow earnings in the long run. The 20% rise in license and subscription revenue is an encouraging sign, but this tends to be lumpy, with a 15% drop during the third quarter. Investors will need to wait and see if this growth is sustainable, or if it's just another fluctuation.