UPDATED 21:07 EDT / NOVEMBER 02 2022


Confluent’s stock rises on solid earnings beat and impressive cloud revenue growth

Big-data company Confluent Inc.’s stock made sharp gains in extended trading today after it posted third-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations. It also offered strong guidance for the next quarter.

The company reported a loss before certain costs such as stock compensation of 13 cents per share on revenue of $151.7 million in the quarter, up by an impressive 48% from the same period one year earlier. The results easily beat Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts had forecast the company to report a bigger, 17-cent-per-share loss on revenue of just $144.4 million.

Overall, Confluent posted a net loss of $116 million in the quarter, rising from a loss of $96.5 million it reported a year earlier.

Investors had apparently been very wary of the company’s performance in the hours leading up to the report. Confluent’s stock fell more than 12% during the regular trading session, albeit on a horrible day for the overall market. However, with the results in, the stock gained more than 10%, almost completely erasing those earlier losses.

Confluent is a rising player in the big-data industry. It’s the primary developer of the popular Apache Kafka open-source software that’s used by enterprises to track data points such as sales, trades, orders and customer responses, in real time. The data is made accessible through real-time streams, from where it can be analyzed rapidly. Given this capability, it’s said that as many as 80% of the Fortune 500 uses Confluent’s software in some way.

Confluent’s strong growth can be attributed to the Confluent Cloud platform, which is a commercial version of Apache Kafka that can be deployed on public cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. It offers benefits such as easier deployment and less management hassles. Confluent Platform, which provides similar advantages, is designed for on-premises deployments.

Until now, the bulk of Confluent’s revenue has always been generated by Confluent Platform, but that is all set to change given the rapid growth of Confluent Cloud. The company reported cloud sales jumped 112% from a year ago, to $57 million. As a result, Confluent Cloud now accounts for close to half of the company’s total revenue.

There were more positive metrics besides that. For instance, Confluent said it has remaining performance obligations of $664 million, up 72% from a year ago. RPO refers to the contracted amount the company will be paid for products and services it has not yet delivered. In addition, Confluent reported that it now has 921 customers that generate at least $100,000 a year in annual recurring revenue, up 39% from a year earlier.

Confluent co-founder and Chief Executive Jay Kreps (pictured) said the results are evidence of a new “data streaming era” for enterprises. “The need for real-time data is pushing streaming from the edges to the core of modern organizations,” he said.

Analyst Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. said Confluent deserves congratulations for its revenue growth, especially with its cloud-based offering.

“This growth is driven by the enterprise demand to put data in motion on a single architecture, which is exactly what Confluent does,” Mueller said. “Investors no doubt still have their concerns over Confluent’s ongoing losses, so they’ll be pleased to see it has managed to reduce them compared to one year earlier, at least on a loss-per-share basis. The question is whether or not this will be enough considering the challenging macroeconomic headwinds that every company is facing at the moment. The next quarter may well provide us with the answer.”

Confluent is at least optimistic about its immediate future. For the fourth quarter, it said it’s forecasting a loss of between 14 and 16 cents per share, ahead of Wall Street’s consensus of a 17-cent-per-share loss. In terms of revenue, Confluent said it sees $161 million to $163 million, above Wall Street’s forecast of $160.3 million.

Photo: FunctionalTV/YouTube

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