Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) again exceeded Wall Street expectations, reporting fourth-quarter 2014 earnings of $48 million, or 26 cents a share, compared with $45 million, or 24 cents a share in the year ago quarter.

Red Hat shares bounced on the news, from $66.81 per share at 2 p.m. to close at $68.45 then surging in after-hours trading. The Hatters have topped analysts’ expectations repeatedly over the past two years and have now grown revenue for 52 consecutive quarters.

Red Hat’s earnings after exceptions was 43 cents per share, 2 cents above analysts’ expectations.

Revenue beat expectations by more than $7 million.

“The fourth quarter was a very strong finish for Red Hat, and our momentum is strong as we begin our new fiscal year,” said CEO JIm Whitehurst in a conference call with analysts.

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“We exceeded guidance in virtually all of our financial metrics for the fourth quarter and drove a record total backlog for future revenue for FY 2016 and beyond.

“The fourth quarter was highlighted by subscription and total revenue that both grew more than 20% year-over-year on a constant currency basis. Q4 was our highest quarterly growth rate in three years cresting over consistent mid to high-teens growth level that we delivered over that period.

“Demand for our open hybrid cloud technologies remain strong in the quarter as evidenced by our record cross selling in our top 30 deals, all of which were over $2 million, a first for us.”

The company also announced a $500 million stock buy-back program Wednesday, an update of board-authorized plan to buy back $300 million that will expire on March 31.

“Over the past four fiscal years, we have repurchased over $1 billion or approximately 19.5 million shares of Red Hat common stock,” stated Charlie Peters, Red Hat’s chief financial officer. “Given our strong conviction about our long-term growth prospects, a healthy balance sheet and the ability to generate operating cash flow, the Red Hat management team and Board of Directors believe that a new repurchase program will create further value for our shareholders.”