Did Workday’s Profitability for 2017 Just Become More Questionable?

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Workday Inc. (NYSE: WDAY) shares tanked on Friday after earnings and guidance, mainly on news that certain large deals were being pushed out. What matters here is that Workday has been a high growth and high-beta company, and 2017 is expected to be the year that Workday shareholders finally get to start seeing real earnings. With such a drop, it is safe to wonder if the 2017 explosive earnings growth may be viewed more muted and pushed back further into 2018, after looking at the news and the analyst calls.

Overall the economic and political uncertainty have been a large concern of Workday going into the fourth quarter, not to mention that several sizable deals have been pushed back.

When the company posted its fiscal third-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Thursday, Workday said that it had $0.03 in earnings per share (EPS) and $409.6 million in revenue. The consensus estimates had called for a net loss of $0.04 per share and revenue of $433.6 million. In the same period of last year, it posted a net loss of $0.01 per share and $323.43 million in revenue.

During the quarter, Workday closed its acquisition of Platfora, a leading provider of operational analytics and data discovery tools, with a team and technology that has been folded into the core of Workday in order to enrich the analytics in Workday Financial Management and Workday HCM.

At the same time, Workday announced the general availability of Workday Learning, Workday Planning and Workday Student. These are three major products that enable customers to replace outdated systems that were disconnected from how organizations want and need to operate.

Annual revenue trends have been great, but as gross profits rose its operating expenses and research and development items rose as well. Net income has been in the red after items for each of these years, and 2017 is expected to be the first year of solid profits. Here were revenue trends for the past few years:

  • January 2016, $1.16 billion
  • January 2015, $787.9 million
  • January 2014, $468.9 million
  • January 2013, $273.7 million
  • January 2012, $134.4 million

On the books, Workday cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities totaled $1.91 billion at the end of the quarter, compared with $1.97 billion at the end of the previous fiscal year.

Aneel Bhusri, co-founder and CEO of Workday, commented:

We had a strong third quarter and saw healthy demand across all major geographies and industries. We continue to lead with product differentiation, technology innovation, and real customer success, and believe these are significant differentiators for Workday in the market.

Chief Financial Officer Robynne Sisco added:

We are very pleased with our third quarter results. Looking ahead, we anticipate fiscal 2017 subscription revenues to be within a range of $1.282 to $1.285 billion and fiscal 2017 total revenues to be within a range of $1.560 to $1.563 billion.

Analysts have already begun to weigh in on Workday:

  • Oppenheimer has an Outperform rating and cut its price target to $88 from $100.
  • BTIG has a Buy rating and cut it price target to $88 from $97.
  • BMO lowered its price target to $93 from $85.
  • Baird lowered its price target from $95 to $90.
  • Canaccord Genuity maintained a Buy rating and lowered its target to $90 from $110.
  • Jefferies has a Hold rating and cut its price target to $71 from $79.
  • JMP Securities lowered its price target to $91 from $93.
  • RBC has an Outperform rating and cut its price target to $85 from $102.
  • Deutsche Bank cut its price target to $75 from $90.
  • Wedbush cut its price target from $82 to $77.

Shares of Workday were last seen down 15% at $69.37, with a consensus analyst price target of $87.91 and a 52-week trading range of $47.32 to $93.35.

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