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Tableau Software CEO Adam Selipsky. (Tableau Photo)

Tableau Software’s primary initiative over the last 18 months has been transitioning to a subscription model for its data visualization products, and the company saw its biggest jump yet in terms of subscription adoption in the third quarter.

Subscription customers now make up 81 percent of Tableau’s business, which is up from 67 percent last quarter and 26 percent when the company began the transition in late 2016.

Earnings statements are always somewhat complicated, but Tableau’s is particularly so this year thanks to the impact of new financial regulations that took effect on January 1st. Under the new rules, Tableau reported net profits of $41.3 million, or $0.47 per share, on $290.6 million in revenue. Under the old model, the company lost $5.8 million, or $0.07 per share, on $239.6 million.

Analysts surveyed in advance by Yahoo Finance expected Tableau to lose $0.11 per share on $242.08 million in revenue. So the company blew away Wall Street expectations under the new rules and did better than expected on earnings under the old model but came up short on revenue.

For the fourth quarter, Tableau expects to report losses between $0.08 and $0.10 cents per share on $266 million to $276 million. Analysts had expected the company to break even on earnings on revenue of approximately $270 million.

Tableau also gave an early look at its guidance for 2019. Next year, Tableau will report only under the new financial rules, which concern how subscription revenue is counted. The company expects to post revenue of $1.33 billion to $1.4 billion in 2019, which would be a 20 percent increase over 2018.

Tableau stock is up more than 6 percent in after-hours trading.

Tableau added 205 employees in the third quarter, to push its headcount over 4,000 for the first time. The company’s headcount of 4,101 at the end of the quarter has risen nearly 20 percent in the last year.

Following IBM’s blockbuster acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion, one analyst suggested the potential for acquisition spree for competitors. Tableau was mentioned by Raymond James analysts in a CNBC article as a potential acquisition target.

However, that seems less likely now with the company’s subscription-powered rebound in full force. Tableau has avoided the pitfalls of the declining stock market in recent months, and shares in the company are up 52 percent for the year.

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