Autodesk offered more information during its Q4 earnings call, the most startling of which was that it closed 22 deals over $1 million in Q4 — a staggering 3x the total of the first 9 months added together. A number of these were in AEC and in North America and Northern Europe — places where you wouldn’t expect to see these deals at this time. But the company says customers have re-calibrated their businesses, stabilized and now need to move forward in more productive, efficient ways than before. (Of course, last year Autodesk closed roughly 50 large deals in Q4.)

Rather than repeating all of the earlier post on Autodesk’s results, new information is added in italics:

CEO Carl Bass said that the company has seen stabilization over the last four quarters but still has concerns about fluctuations in currency, and has seen no real uptick in employment or easing of the credit crunch. “We’re being cautious about what we see out there… We’re investing in growth and improving our profitability. We’re focusing on what we can control.”

Jay Vleeschhouwer asked about idle capacity or shelfware — software that isn’t being used and that might keep new licenses from being bought until that idle capacity is consumed. CEO Bass said that the company hasn’t seen a lot of this. In fact, said Bass, Autodesk has seen more pent-up demand than excess capacity as users (who had not upgraded for various reasons) are now looking to update their tools.

Two Autodesk execs were named CRN Channel Chiefs for 2010 today: Ken Bado, executive vice president of Sales and Services, and Steve Blum, senior vice president, Americas Sales. When asked about Autodesk’s channel strategy, CEO Bass said that nothing has really changed. Autodesk offers lots of direction about where the company is headed, but made “no sharp changes in direction, continuing to tune the business, tweaking the model to strengthen their business and ours.” The indirect/direct revenue split remains at 80/20, which would indicate that Autodesk’s channel is holding up reasonably well.

• Q4 revenue was $456 million, up 9 % sequentially but down 7 % from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009. To put this in perspective, Autodesk reported Q3 revenue of $417 million, flat sequentially but a drop of 31% from a year earlier.
• Autodesk said that most of the “top products” showed sequential growth in Q4; large deals activity was up, driven by pent-up demand and end of year budget drawdowns; revenue from commercial new seat licenses was up 14% led by AutoCAD and Inventor; 3D “model-based” revenue was again 29% of total revenue, constant through the year.
• The AEC business reported revenue of $137 million, up 10% sequentially, led by Revit which was up 11%.
• The Manufacturing segment reported revenue of $108 million, up 20% sequentially, led by Inventor which was up 15% sequentially. The manufacturing business did well in Q4, said CEO Bass, especially in competitive “swap-outs”. “Many manufacturers are running legacy, complex, expensive systems that are no longer best tools to do the job. Autodesk is doing wholesale replacements or pilots to replace old systems.” He highlighted industrial machinery and automotive as key verticals within manufacturing and said that the company had “made some inroads” into aerospace and defense, consumer products and each industry’s supply chain.
• Autodesk Vault is now being rolled out to customers outside manufacturing — “it’s a real issue for many of our customers”, said CEO Bass. It’s not clear whether all revenue is summed into the Manufacturing business or if this was meaningful for Q4.
• When asked about the success of the simulation products, CEO Bass said that this could best be characterized as in pilot stages with no big revenue impact in Q4. But the company is pleased with progress so far in integrating analysis into the design process.
• License and other revenue was $270 million down 13% year/year but up 14% sequentially.
• Maintenance grew during the year, ending in Q4 at $186 million. The maintenance renewal rate is up sequentially and is flat year/year although the company declined to specify exactly where in the 80% range it is. CEO Bass said, “Q4 is a good indicator but not a trend yet — we were a little surprised by the renewal rate, since we had thought it would be lower.”
• All geographies were up sequentially but down year/year. The strongest sequential gain was in EMEA, up 18%; the weakest was the Americas, which increased 3% sequentially. Revenue from Asia was up 6% sequentially. Rebound in EMEA, currency-driven; stabilizing in Americas with a good trajectory. Emerging economies growing again, reflecting growth in employment in those regions.
• Backlog is on the high side right now, channel inventory is below 3 weeks – nothing unusual.

For the year, total revenue was $1,714 million, down 26%. Guidance for FY2011 is limited to Q1 at this point, with the company forecasting revenue of between $420 million and $440 million, a 14%ish decrease from a year ago and a 6% sequential decrease. When asked about the slower than usual sequential Q1 decline, Autodesk CFO Mark Hawkins said that this was the best forecast possible given current information.

The analysts on the call came close to gushing, as one after the other congratulated Autodesk on its Q4 results. They’re generally a picky crowd but not one questioner harped on any element of these results. Autodesk was clear: it was a good Q4, all things considered, but we don’t have anything approaching and end to this recession yet. Investors seem happy; the stock was up 5% in after-market trading.