The company reported earnings of $24.5 million, or $1.43 per share, in the period ended Dec. 31. Sales rose to $71.6 million, up 39 percent from the fourth quarter of 2003. The performance crushed the street's consensus expectations, which stood at a profit of 88 cents per share on sales of $61 million.
"MicroStrategy delivered another strong quarter, with record revenues, excellent operating margins and outstanding license revenue growth," company president and CEO Michael Saylor said in a statement. License revenue for the quarter was $34.1 million, up from $23.4 million in the same period the year prior.
Chief operating officer Sanju Bansal attributed the 39% surge in revenue in the fourth quarter to increasing sales of the vendor's MicroStrategy Report Services reporting software, which began shipping in early 2004, and a growing number of customers buying more user licenses to expand their MicroStrategy deployments.
"We have seen a good number of capacity-expansions among existing customers," Bansal said. Increased demand for maintenance contracts pushed up service-related revenue in the quarter, he said.
The company also cited a series of new products for the better-than-expected results. MicroStrategy Office, which the vendor released in April 2004, lets users call up database information from within Microsoft desktop applications. In June, the company introduced MicroStrategy Universal Edition, a reporting tool designed for high numbers of users.
MicroStrategy has scheduled the introduction of MicroStrategy 8, an upgrade to its main business intelligence platform, for next week. That product has been in beta testing since September.
New customer wins for MicroStrategy in the fourth quarter included Albertson's, Cingular Wireless, Lending Tree, McGraw-Hill Companies, Metropolitan Life Insurance and The Bank of New York.
Rick Whiting of InformationWeek contributed to this report.