Why Salesforce Earnings Were Not Enough for Investors

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Salesforce.com, Inc. (NYSE: CRM) reported fiscal second-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Wednesday. Looking at this quarter’s numbers, most would think that investors would be content, but this is not the case. Shares were sent lower in the after-hours session, not based on the 40% year over year revenue growth or the bottom-line earnings beat, but rather the near-term guidance.

The company posted $0.24 in earnings per share (EPS) on $2.04 billion in revenue. The consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters called for $0.22 in EPS on $2.02 billion in revenue. The same period from the previous year had $0.19 in EPS on $1.63 billion in revenue.

Deferred revenue increased by 26% to $3.82 billion from last year, and 27% on a constant currency basis. Unbilled deferred revenue rose 29% to roughly $8.0 billion.

In terms of guidance for the fiscal third quarter, the company expects to have EPS in the range of $0.20 to $0.21 and revenues in the range of $2.11 billion to $2.12 billion. There are consensus estimates calling for $0.24 in EPS on $2.13 billion in revenue for the coming quarter.

Guidance for fiscal 2017 was given as EPS in the range of $0.93 to $0.95 and revenues in the range of $8.275 billion to $8.325 billion, compared to the consensus estimates of $0.95 in EPS on $8.31 billion in revenue.

Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, Salesforce, commented:

Second quarter revenue grew 25% in dollars, and 26% in constant currency, propelling Salesforce past the $2 billion quarterly revenue milestone. No other enterprise software company of our size is growing at this pace. At Dreamforce, you’re going to see the next generation of Salesforce when we unveil Salesforce Einstein, the world’s first comprehensive artificial intelligence platform for CRM. I’ve never been more excited about the innovation happening at Salesforce.

On the books, cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities totaled $1.17 billion at the end of the quarter, versus $1.34 billion at the end of the previous fiscal year.

Shares of Salesforce closed Wednesday at $79.42, with a consensus analyst price target of $96.72 and a 52-week trading range of $52.60 to $84.48. Following the release of the earnings report, the stock was down 5.7% at $74.92 in the after-hours trading session.