The “New” Adobe Systems Incorporated (ADBE) Looks Good Ahead of Earnings

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It’s not uncommon for tech companies to trade at expensive valuations. But when the company is trading at a 52-week high while also in the midst of a significant transition, it makes for an uncomfortable situation. Nevertheless, Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) seems to be handling this patch pretty well.

Granted, it’s still too early to say that the company has met all expectations in execution. But I’m nonetheless pleased that the conversion to a subscription-based model has not adversely affected Adobe’s current business. While the valuation today seems pretty demanding when compared to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)‘s, Adobe remains a quality company with strong leadership. That’s not to say there aren’t challenges.

What’s with the “new” Adobe?
Wall Street hates uncertainty. But it seems Adobe’s getting the benefit of the doubt, and deservedly so. The company’s back has been up against the wall. And management has been looking for a way to recharge growth in products such as Creative Suite, which is often considered too expensive when there are much cheaper alternatives available in Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Apps. Plus, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s resistance to incorporating the Flash plug-in within its products only created more doubt about Adobe’s leverage. Things needed to change.

Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) wanted to exit its software license business and convert it to a subscriptions-based model. So far, not only are existing customers embracing the change, but new customers are signing on at a faster-than-expected rate. For instance, in the company’s third-quarter earnings report, which reflected when the transition first took shape, Adobe was able to transition roughly $29 billion more recurring revenue than it anticipated.

What’s more,it was able to grow its Creative Cloud paid subscriptions to approximately 200,000 subscribers. This is while also adding 8,000 Creative Cloud subscriptions per week. Fast-forward to the fourth quarter and Creative Cloud was able to improve that to 10,000 subscriptions per week, bringing its full-year total to 326,000 for the year. Remarkably, with recurring revenue of $153 million, management was able to exceed its own guidance by 62% above the $94 million that was projected.

All of this justifies the faith the Street is showing in the stock. The company is operating on all cylinders — and then some. The pace at which the transitioning to the “new Adobe” is impressive. In that regard, CEO Shantanu Narayen said, “We beat our Creative Cloud subscription goals and established Adobe Marketing Cloud as the leader in the exploding category of Digital Marketing during fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2013 we intend to accelerate our pace of innovation, and drive integration between Creative Cloud and Adobe Marketing Cloud.”

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