Red Hat? More like red hot

Shares of open source software and services vendor hit 12-year high.

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Shares of open source software and services vendor Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) are at their highest point since the very peak of the first Internet gold rush in March 2000 thanks to a strong fiscal fourth-quarter report.

Red Hat announced its Q4 earnings after Wednesday's market close. The next day shares jumped more than 20% to 61.71 before finishing at 61.43.

Friday's session saw Red Hat's stock dip 1.45, or 2.4%, to 59.98 by early afternoon, but that's not likely to upset shareholders, especially those who scooped up shares for less than $8 each in November 2008.

The last time Red Hat was above $60 a share was in the third week of March 2000, though it already was in a steep decline from $132 just two months prior, its rapid descent a harbinger of what was to come for an entire sector.

Red Hat on Wednesday reported net income for the quarter ended February 29 of $36 million, or 18 cents a share, up from $33.5 million, or 17 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. On an adjusted basis, Red Hat's Q4 net income was 29 cents a share.

The company's revenue, which comes from a combination of Linux-based software sales and service support, was $297 million, up 21% from $209 million in last year's Q4.

Average analyst estimates called for an adjusted net profit of 27 cents a share on revenue of $291 million.

For the entire fiscal year, Red Hat's revenue was $1.13 billion, up from $909 million in fiscal 2011. Net income for the year was $146.6 million, or 76 cents a share, up from $107.2 million, or 56 cents a share, a year ago.

Chris Nerney writes ITworld's Tech Business Today blog. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisNerney.

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