Citrix Buys In to the Future

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Virtualization specialist Citrix Systems (NAS: CTXS) continues to chug along, riding the cloud to riches, albeit with the occasional speed bump.

The company reported fourth-quarter earnings recently, with total revenue climbing 17% to $619.4 million. After everything was said and done, non-GAAP earnings per share jumped by a fifth to $0.78. Unfortunately, investors aren't too impressed, with shares finishing the day down 3.8%. Are shareholders asking for too much? Or is their skepticism deserved?

One reason Citrix lagged today is that first-quarter profit guidance came in on the light side. While the expected revenue range of $555 million to $565 million plays reasonably well with the consensus estimate of $561.4 million, the bottom-line forecast of $0.49 to $0.51 per share was shy of the $0.56 the Street is looking for.

The scaled-back bottom line projection is due to Citrix's investment in development, consulting, and sales teams meant to facilitate growth in the future. Citrix has also been acquiring smaller players here and there this quarter to strengthen its cloud and data sharing offerings, such as App-DNA and ShareFile.

CFO David Henshall said he expects some of the acquisitions to be dilutive to consolidated earnings in the near term, but they should become accretive toward the tail end of this year as Citrix builds out capacity.

Citrix also partnered with Cisco Systems (NAS: CSCO) near the beginning of the quarter to accelerate large-scale deployments of desktop virtualization.

Citrix's guidance differs slightly from rival VMWare's (NYS: VMW) , which reported earlier this week. VMWare's guidance was healthy enough to top forecasts and brush aside fears of broader IT spending growth, although it said it was still a tad cautious.

Investing in the future is the right call to make, especially with a space as important as virtualization. Shareholders dumping shares today because Citrix may take a short-term dip on the bottom line for the sake of long-term growth up top are myopic.

I'm even following up my words with a thumbs-up CAPScall today. Virtualization isn't slowing down anytime soon, and neither will Citrix.

Virtualization and the cloud are two peas in a pod. Just the words "cloud computing" are enough to make Bill Gates cringe. Check out this free video report on why he hates this megatrend so much and what you should do about it. What do you have to lose? It's 100% free.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorEvan Niuholds no position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Cisco Systems.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of VMware and Cisco Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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