Tableau: Will it Become Indispensable?

 | May 06, 2014 | 10:00 AM EDT
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A few years ago, I was a beta tester for Tableau Software (DATA). Tableau's software allows a user to easily chart vast amounts of data quickly and simply.

The company reported blow-out earnings on Monday and the stock bounced higher. The shares have taken a brutal beating all year -- down 43%. But Tableau is the fastest growing software company I follow and this earnings report could mark the bottom for the stock.

In 2011, I was looking for a way to chart vast amounts of stock data, when I came across Tableau Software. Tableau's charting software allows users to easily visualize data by simply dragging fields on top of the Tableau desktop.

Users can tap into data stored in spreadsheets, in giant corporate databases or in the cloud without programming. Users can create dashboards and share them with their co-workers. As the data changes, your visualizations update instantly.

I liked the software because it made getting insights out of your data easy. If you drop a date field on to the desktop, the software knows you are charting a time series and starts drawing a line chart. The visualization engine is lightning-fast so users can drill down on their data quickly.

In the quarter ended March 31, Tableau reported revenue climbed 86% to $74.6 million. Software license revenue grew 83% and maintenance jumped 92%. The company added 1,800 new customers. Gross margin was 90.55%. Management guided next quarter to between $75 million and $80 million in revenue, which, at the mid-point, equates to 55% revenue growth.

For the year, analysts expect the company to earn $333.93 million, up 44%. Obviously, after this earnings report, those estimates seem low. Next year, analysts believe revenue will climb 35% to $450.8 million.

I believe this quarter could mark a bottom for the stock. As I mentioned, Tableau is the fastest growing software company I follow and I could easily see the company beating analyst estimates all year.

Tableau's visualization software is reminiscent of the early days of Lotus 1-2-3 and Excel. Spreadsheet software became an indispensable part of corporate life. I believe Tableau will follow in those footsteps.

Tableau makes using data simple. Anyone who needs to analyze data will find Tableau's products compelling. Once you use Tableau, you will want it. (Assuming you are a Windows user, there is no native Mac version.)

After a 43% drop in the stock, and strong revenue growth, I believe Tableau shares are on the shopping list of many investors.

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