Autodesk Q2 Earnings: A Tough Transition

Shares Autodesk were down 6% at 1:45 p.m. Friday after the specialist software company released fiscal second-quarter 2016 results Thursday after market close. For the second time this year, the company sliced its earnings estimates. Let's look at why it did that and at its overall performance for the quarter.

Twice-trimmed guidanceIn the second quarter, Autodesk took in nearly $610 million in revenue, 4% lower than the $637 million of Q2 2015. Hammered by a big provision for income tax, the company swung violently to a loss of $236 million ($1.04 per diluted share) on the bottom line, from a $31 million ($0.13) profit in the same quarter last year.

Stripping out such one-time items, net profit on an adjusted basis was $44 million ($0.19) this past quarter, 46% below that of the $82 million ($0.35) in the second quarter of 2015.

This past quarter, neither the top nor bottom line was very far off average analyst estimates of $612 million and $0.17 per share, respectively.

Total billings, meanwhile, advanced by 7%, while deferred revenue rose 26% to $1.2 billion. The former is the amount the company bills its clients, and the latter is the amount of contract revenue that has not yet been recognized.

On a discouraging note, Autodesk once again reduced its estimates for full-year fiscal 2016. The company now believes it will post revenue for the period of $2.47 billion to $2.51 billion, and EPS of $0.60 to $0.72. It had previously forecast $2.56 billion to $2.61 billion and $0.95 to $1.10.

Autodesk attributed the lower revenue figure (and the reduced top-line guidance) to a general shift toward subscription services and away from the sale of perpetual licenses. At the end of this past second quarter, the company had 2.39 million subscriptions. It expects to add 375,000 to 425,000 in total this fiscal year.

Concurrent to the earnings release, Autodesk also announced an acquisition. The company said it has signed an agreement to buy SeeControl, a San Francisco-based developer of an Internet of Things cloud service platform.

Autodesk said that the move "is the first step on Autodesk's ongoing efforts to develop new technologies and solutions that will help our customers leverage the Internet of Things, starting by enabling them to capture, analyze, and utilize data from their products." The details of the transaction were not made public; Autodesk said it expects the deal to have no impact on the guidance it proffered in the second-quarter results.

The right design for the future?No investor likes to see their company trim guidance twice in less than a year, so it's no surprise the stock traded down in the wake of the results. Transitional phase aside, that steep fall in adjusted net is cause for concern and something to keep an eye on going forward.

With the SeeControl buy, it seems the company is getting into a segment that has good potential. But it's too early to tell, and the success of the shift in core business model is far from assured, so perhaps it's better to lay off the stock for now.

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