Adobe rises on strong first-quarter earnings

Key Points
  • Adobe beat on earnings and revenue for the quarter, and its guidance exceeded estimates.
  • The company's subscription revenue grew nearly 30 percent in the quarter.
Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe
Linda Dimyan | CNBC

Adobe stock opened nearly 4 percent up Friday, a day after the company reported better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter of its 2018 fiscal year, which ended on March 2.

  • Earnings: Excluding certain items, $1.55 in earnings per share vs. $1.44 in earnings per share as expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters.
  • Revenue: $2.08 billion vs. $2.05 billion as expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters.

Adobe's total revenue was up 24 percent year over year, and subscription revenue of $1.79 billion was up 29.6 percent, according to Thursday's statement. Product revenue of $171 million fell 6.4 percent.

Adobe's biggest segment, digital media, came in at $1.46 billion, above the $1.43 billion FactSet analyst consensus, and the second-largest segment, digital experience (formerly known as digital marketing), produced $575 million, exceeding the $572.4 million consensus estimate, according to StreetAccount.

With respect to guidance, Adobe CFO Mark Garrett announced on the company's conference call with analysts that it's expecting $1.53 in earnings per share, excluding certain items, on $2.15 billion in revenue in its fiscal second quarter. Analysts had expected Adobe to predict $1.51 in earnings per share, excluding certain items, on $2.14 billion in revenue for its fiscal second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters.

CEO Shantanu Narayen said the company would not provide updated annual guidance and suggested analysts look at the first-quarter performance and the second-quarter guidance. He also pointed to Adobe's growth in the second half of its 2017 fiscal year.

Adobe started telling customers and its channel about increased prices for Adobe's Creative Cloud services earlier this month, Garrett said. While they did take effect in the fiscal second quarter, they won't have a material impact on annual recurring revenue, Garrett said.

In response to a question from Citi's Walter Pritchard about making acquisitions to expand its digital marketing lineup, Narayen said, "We feel good about our opportunity there." More generally, following U.S. tax reform, Garrett said the company hasn't changed its priorities in terms of its use of capital.

Executives boasted about Creative Cloud subscription growth but did not provide user numbers. Griffin Securities analyst Jay Vleeschhouwer estimated in a Tuesday note that the Creative Cloud had about 13 million subscribers in the quarter, up from 6.9 million for the same period two years earlier.

Adobe stock is up 25 percent since the beginning of the year. During the quarter Adobe announced Garrett's intent to retire.