Upstart enterprise software companies -- such as (NYSE:CRM) and RightNow (NASDAQ:RNOW) -- have done quite well in a tough market. So, are older software companies behind the times? Maybe the only hope is to engage in hostile takeovers, the way Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) has?

Well, that's certainly not the case with Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK). Founded more than 20 years ago, the company is a global leader in software for computer-aided design (CAD), such as for the building and manufacturing industries (the primary customers are architects and engineers). The company has more than 6 million users.

Yesterday, Autodesk reported its fourth-quarter earnings. Net income was $66 million, or $0.26 per share, which was up from $58 million, or $0.24 a share, a year earlier. During this time, revenues increased to $356 million from $295 million.

No doubt, Autodesk has spent wisely on research and development. A key growth driver, for example, is the company's innovative three-dimensional products. In the fourth quarter, revenues from this line increased 49% from the same period a year ago.

What's more, the company is getting a nice pocket of growth from its massive upgrade, yet it's also showing significant growth in new users.

There was major concern that the growth at Autodesk would slow down this year. Actually, yesterday the company upped its guidance. For the year, it forecasts net earnings of $1.05 to $1.10 and revenues of $1.36 billion to $1.41 billion. For the next quarter, the company forecasts net earnings at $0.26 to $0.28 a share, with revenues of $335 million to $345 million.

According to Carol Bartz, the CEO, Autodesk "executed flawlessly" and "exceeded all financial targets." Yes, this is something rarely heard for enterprise software investors.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article.