RHT stock was sharply lower in this evening's after-hours trading session after the announcement of third-quarter 2017 Red Hat earnings. The company reported EPS of $0.61, beating Wall Street analyst consensus, by 5.1 percent. Revenue was reported at $615 million, missing the analyst consensus of $618.02 million. The EPS and revenue figures represent year-over-year growth of 27.1 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively.

The open-source software producer is currently headed by Chief Executive Officer James Whitehurst and Chief Financial Officer Frank Calderoni, who announced that he would be departing the company, in January 2017.

Management has scheduled a webcast conference call for 5 p.m. ET, where today's Red Hat earnings results will be discussed with investors and analysts. Mr. Whitehurst has been at the helm of Red Hat since 2008; he was previously employed as chief operating officer with Delta Airlines, Inc. (NYSE: DAL).

"Our warm thanks to Frank for his contributions to Red Hat and for helping prepare Red Hat for the rich Business opportunity we have before us," CEO Whitehurst said with regard to Mr. Calderoni's departure. Eric Shander, the current Red Hat vice president of finance and accounting, will step into the CFO position.

RHT stock up 250 percent over 10 years

Over the past 10 years, RHT stock has returned over 250 percent, compared with a gain of about 57 percent for the general market, as measured by the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

Over the past year, RHT shares are flat, compared with a gain of close to 12 percent for the S&P 500. Red Hat pays no dividend.

Thirty brokers tracked by Yahoo Finance currently publish buy and sell recommendations and price targets for RHT stock. The average recommendation is 2.0, where 1.0 is a strong buy and 5.0 is sell; the average has remained steady over the past seven days.

Price targets range from a low of $75 to a high of $110, and average $90.17. Targets and recommendations are likely to change with today's results.

Double-digit Red Hat earnings and revenue growth forecast

Going into today's reports, the analyst consensus for full-year 2017 Red Hat revenue was for growth, of 18.1 percent, to $2.42 billion, In 2018, analysts see revenue growing again, by 14.0 percent, to $2.76 billion.

Red Hat earnings, on a per share basis, are expected to grow, by 17.3 percent, to $2.24 for the full-2017 fiscal year, and then grow again in 2018, by 17.0 percent, to $2.62. Over the past 90 days, the 2017 consensus has been raised from $2.21; for 2018, the consensus has been raised from $2.60, over the same period.

Red Hat last reported holding cash totaling $1.34 billion and debt totaling $734.7 million. The producer of the Linux operating system reported a debt-to-equity ratio of 55.73 percent and a return on equity of 16.37 percent. The firm's operating margin was 13.59 percent and its profit margin, 4.8 percent.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!