Salesforce Falls as Sales Growth Rate Fails to Satisfy Investors

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Salesforce.com Inc. reported sales increased 20% in the fiscal fourth quarter, the same year-over-year gains as in the previous period, disappointing investors who were looking for growth to accelerate. Shares dropped about 4% in extended trading.

Still, the company gave a revenue forecast for the current period that exceeded analysts’ estimates, suggesting customers have begun spending more on its software after slowdowns fueled by the pandemic.

Sales were $5.82 billion in the period ended Jan. 31. Profit, excluding some items, was $1.04 a share. That compared with analysts’ average projections of $5.68 billion and 75 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Salesforce Falls as Sales Growth Rate Fails to Satisfy Investors

“Salesforce doesn’t look like it accelerating the business in Q4,” said Pat Walravens, an analyst at JMP Securities. Revenue from clients in Europe increased 20% -- a decline from a 26% gain in the third quarter. Bookings also were flat, he said. “Investors would have hoped we would see an acceleration in those growth measures.”

Salesforce is in the process of buying Slack Technologies Inc., the latest acquisition designed to fuel continued sales growth -- the company aims to top 25% a year. Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff has orchestrated more than 60 acquisitions in 22 years, taking his company from dot-com era upstart to a titan of cloud computing. Prior to the release of the results, Walravens said demand was starting to recover from the pandemic, which should help Salesforce. The forecast may indicate that improvement, even if last quarter’s results were less than some investors anticipated.

The company reported sales of $5.82 billion in the period ended Jan. 31. Profit, excluding some items, was $1.04 a share. That compared with analysts’ average projections of $5.68 billion and 75 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Revenue will be as much as $5.89 billion in the period ending in April, the San Francisco-based company said Thursday in a statement. Analysts, on average, projected $5.72 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit, excluding some items, will be 88 to 89 cents. Analysts projected 76 cents.

The company projected annual profit, excluding some items, of as much as $3.41 a share. Analysts, on average, projected $3.51.

“At the macro level we are finally coming out of this horrible pandemic situation,” Walravens said. “That means that a lot of companies that have been under pressure should be starting to see bluer skies and should be hiring salespeople and should be investing in their sales and marketing functions.”

The shares fell to a low of $220 in extended trading after closing at $231.08 in New York. The stock has gained 3.8% this year.

Slack, in preliminary results, said sales in the fourth quarter were $250.6 million. Analysts, on average, estimated $240.8 million. The enterprise chat app maker said it added 14,000 paying customers, a 180% increase over a year ago.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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