Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL) topped analysts' estimates once again in its third quarter Thursday, earning $49 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $327 million.
First Call consensus pegged it of a profit of 13 cents a share in the quarter.
Novell shares closed off 3/4 to 24 7/8 ahead of the earnings report.
The $327 million in sales represents a 20 percent improvement compared to the year-ago quarter when it made $27 million, or 20 cents a share, on sales of $272 million.
Sales of the company's flagship NetWare5 server software helped Novell top analysts' estimates for the fourth-consecutive quarter.
"We are seeing excellent results across Novell's directory business," said CEO Eric Schmidt in a prepared release. "Our three areas of focus: intelligent servers, directory applications, and service, education and consulting are performing very well."
Last quarter, Novell beat Street estimates, earning $38.7 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $315.6 million.
In the quarter, Novell's NetWare software accounted for $175 million of the total revenue, up 25 percent from the year-ago quarter. Directory-enabled applications products grew 34 percent to $75 million and training and consulting sales improved 43 percent to $49 million.
Sales into Europe, the Middle East and Africa shot up 39 percent to $100 million, led by strong demand from Germany, France and the U.K. Asia-Pacific sales improved 27 percent to $24 million and U.S. sales grew 13 percent to $183 million.
Novell ended the quarter with $992 million in cash and short-term investments.
All this tremendous growth has had a very real impact on Novell's stock price.
After falling to a low of 9 1/2 last August, the stock moved up to a 52-week high of 31 3/16 in July.
Once written off by Wall Street, Novell is now rated either a "buy" or "strong buy" by 11 of the 12 analysts following the stock.
First Call consensus expects Novell to earn 50 cents a share in the fiscal year.