Why Splunk Inc. Shares Went Splat Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of intelligence software specialist Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK  ) dropped nearly 13% early this morning, and then settled to close down around 6% as the broader tech sector pulled back.

So what: In the absence of any big news, the likely culprit for today's fall was the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite, which plunged by as much as 1.3% in early trading before partially recovering to close down 0.3%. It's unsurprising, then, to see richly valued stocks like Splunk -- which trades around 20 times trailing 12-month sales and 350 times next year's expected earnings -- follow suit.

With this in mind, Splunk today announced the retirement of its senior vice president of field operations, Tom Schodorf, who will be replaced by former Cisco Senior VP Doug Merritt. It's not a particularly alarming bit of management turnover leading up to Splunk's May 29 earnings release, but the press release also notes that Schodorf's retirement follows "more than four years of impressive execution, including strong fiscal first quarter FY15 results." (emphasis mine)

Now what: That doesn't exactly give curious shareholders much to go by, but you might recall that shares of Splunk fell following last quarter's report after weaker-than-expected earnings and in-line guidance left investors underwhelmed. At the time, Splunk called for first-quarter revenue between $78 million and $80 million, which sits just below analysts' current estimate for sales of $80.69 million. We'll see whether Splunk can exceed its own guidance and live up to expectations when it reports later this month, but I'm perfectly happy remaining on the sidelines until then.

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