Why Aspen Technology Shares Sank

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Aspen Technology have lost over 8% today (but have recovered from an intraday low of 12% off the previous close) for little apparent reason, as the company beat the Street on top and bottom lines in the earnings released last evening. The only real negative in Aspen's report is the pending retirement of CEO Mark Fusco.

So what: Aspen's fiscal third quarter revenue came in at $79.4 million, well ahead of the $72.9 million consensus, as did the $0.14 in earnings per share, which beat a consensus of $0.09. Aspen's total quarterly license contract value also increased by 13%, and executives reported "seeing customers use a broader cross-section of our product suite." As a result of that outperformance, Aspen execs raised their fiscal 2013 free cash flow guidance from $120 million to $130 million, which would give the stock a price-to-free-cash-flow ratio of 20, and which represents growth of 30% year over year.

Now what: CEO Mark Fusco will be handing the reins to Executive VP of Worldwide Field Operations Antonio Pietri, a 17-year veteran of the company and executive vice president in charge of sales and services. Pietri clearly has experience within the company, but it's worth asking why the company reached rather far down down into the executive ranks to pull him into the corner office.

It is far too early to vote against an incoming executive with the sell button, especially one with nearly two decades of inside experience. Nothing about this report indicates a company in danger, so if you were interested before, you should definitely take the time now to dig a little deeper.

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The article Why Aspen Technology Shares Sank originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Alex Planes holds no financial position in any company mentioned here. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter @TMFBiggles for more insight into markets, history, and technology.The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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