Software maker Red Hat continued its recent momentum on Wednesday, comfortably beating Wall Street's fourth-quarter forecasts.



Updated from 5:37 p.m. ET to reflect the company's outlook.

RALEIGH, N.C. (TheStreet) -- Software maker Red Hat(:RHT) continued its recent momentum on Wednesday, comfortably beating Wall Street's fourth-quarter forecasts after market close.

The Microsoft(:MSFT) and Oracle(:ORCL) rival reported revenue of $297 million, an increase of 21% on the same period last year, and well above analysts' forecast of $291.22 million. Red Hat reported its fourth-quarter results after market close.

Excluding items, Red Hat earned 29 cents a share, up from 26 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were looking for earnings of 27 cents a share.

Investors welcomed the numbers, pushing Red Hat's shares up $4.48, or 8.72%, to $55.87 in extended trading.

"The strength of our fourth quarter was a fitting conclusion to a remarkably strong year for our business," explained Jim Whitehurst, the Red Hat CEO, in a statement. "Our investments to expand our geographic sales footprint and add sales people with targeted industry and product knowledge has accelerated our growth."

The open source software specialist also announced a $300 million share repurchase program after market close on Wednesday.

For the first quarter, Red Hat expects revenue between $307 million and $311 million, above Wall Street's forecast of $306.2 million. Excluding items, Red Hat expects earnings between 25 cents a share and 27 cents a share. Analysts have predicted earnings of 27 cents a share.

Red Hat also projected full-year sales between $1.34 billion and $1.36 billion and earnings, excluding items, between $1.16 a share and $1.20 a share. Analysts are looking for sales of $1.3 billion and earnings of $1.15 a share.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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