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What: Shares of cloud-computing poster child salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM ) rose more than 10% early today and remain up 3% as of this writing thanks to better-than-expected fourth-quarter results and signs of accelerating adoption of its various platform services.
So what: Revenue grew 29% to $457 million. Non-GAAP profit inched up just a penny, to $0.31 a share. Analysts were expecting $453.24 million and $0.26, respectively.
Now what: As the guy who pitched salesforce.com to our Motley Fool Rule Breakers members, I'm glad to see salesforce.com enjoying revenue and cash flow growth. I also like that deferred revenue grew 33% to $935 million, suggesting customers are making bigger subscription commitments to the underlying platform and add-ons such as Chatter. This is serious growth, and well above what peer NetSuite (NYSE: N ) is delivering right now.
And yet I'm troubled by salesforce.com's options largesse. The company excluded $0.30 a share pre-tax worth of stock-based compensation costs into its non-GAAP profit calculation. To understand how massive that is, add $0.13 in taxes to salesforce.com's $0.31 per share profit. That's $0.44 in non-GAAP pre-tax profit, right? At $0.30 a share, more than 68% of salesforce.com's pre-tax, non-GAAP profit was a magic trick, the result of pretending that doling out options to management and staff costs shareholders nothing. That's tough to swallow.
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