Well, the weekend's finally here, class -- and you know what that means: two extra days' worth of homework. (Hooray! I love trigonometry!) Actually, we'll leave the trig aside, and instead load you up with facts and figures on Blackboard (NASDAQ:BBBB). Come Monday afternoon, all of this will be on the test.

Wall Street Wisdom:

  • General consensus. Only six analysts follow little Blackboard, but most of them like it. The company carries four buy ratings and only two holds.
  • Revenues. Analysts estimate that Blackboard grew its revenues in the fourth quarter of 2005 by 18% over Q4 2004, to $35.6 million.
  • Earnings. Profits are expected to exceed that growth rate, rising 30% year over year to $0.26 per share.

Margin watch:
Blackboard's margins are nothing short of astounding, and the rate at which it is growing those margins leaves "astounding" in the dust. Although gross margins have barely budged over the past 18 months, operating margins more than tripled, and net margins more than quadrupled. That kind of improvement can't go on forever -- but man, is it ever nice to watch while it's happening!

Margins %

6/04

9/04

12/04

3/05

6/05

9/05

Gross

68.8

69.6

69.6

69.5

69.9

70.5

Op.

5.2

7

9.2

12.0

14.9

16.9

Net

3.8

6.4

9

12.5

15.9

18.1

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ending in the named months.

Foolish lookout:
Although Wall Street has set the bar high for Blackboard, expect the company to top those forecasts anyway. The company has exceeded analyst expectations every quarter since it went public, racking up an impressive record of "beating estimates" by an average of 34% per quarter.

The downside to a record like that: Investors likely expect an earnings beat on Monday. There may be an unpublished "whisper number" that you and I don't know about. Unless Blackboard hits it, the stock could suffer.

That said, looking even farther out, it doesn't really matter whether Blackboard beats or misses tomorrow. The company recently received Justice Department clearance to proceed with buying out its primary competitor, WebCT. In all likelihood, whatever tomorrow's number turns out to be, it will pale in comparison to the profits this educational software monopolist will rake in over the years to come.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of Blackboard, but the company is a recommendation of Motley Fool Hidden Gems .