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Salesforce Earnings: What to Watch

By Daniel Sparks – Aug 15, 2019 at 7:21AM

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The software-as-a-service giant has been growing its top line and operating cash flow at impressive rates. Did these trends persist in fiscal Q2?

Customer relationship management platform provider (CRM -0.47%) is scheduled to report its fiscal second-quarter results next week. Investors will be watching closely, as shares were pummeled in the market's recent sell-off. The stock is now down 3% over the last 12 months. Investors will be hoping some figures from the report can provide optimistic news in the middle of a mostly bearish market in recent weeks.

Here are several items investors will want to watch when Salesforce reports its earnings for its second quarter of fiscal 2020 on Aug. 22.

A diagram of a cloud connected to three laptops.

Image source: Getty Images.

Revenue growth

Salesforce's fiscal first-quarter revenue rose 24% year over year, or 26% in constant currency. Capturing the company's strong momentum, this is consistent with growth rates in recent quarters.

"Our strong revenue growth in the quarter reflects the strength of our business and the tremendous demand we're seeing from customers worldwide," said Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block in the company's fiscal first-quarter earnings release. "Companies of every size and industry are undergoing a digital transformation to better serve their customers and they are choosing Salesforce as their partner."

For Salesforce's fiscal second quarter, management guided for revenue to be between $3.94 billion and $3.95 billion, with the midpoint of this guidance range translating to 20% year-over-year growth. But analysts, on average, expect revenue to be at the high end of this guidance range -- at $3.95 billion.

Operating cash flow growth

Management was particularly pleased with the company's fiscal first-quarter growth in operating cash flow, which increased 34% year over year during the quarter to nearly $2 billion.

"I just want to congratulate our entire team for these cash flow numbers, because they are just phenomenal," said Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff in the company's fiscal first-quarter earnings call when talking about its operating cash flow growth.

In fiscal Q2, investors should look for operating cash flow growth to moderate to a growth rate closer to management's guidance for full-year fiscal 2020, which is for operating cash flow to rise 20% to 21% year over year.

Service cloud performance

Key to Salesforce's robust growth recently has been the performance in its service cloud.

The company splits up its subscription and support revenue into four core offerings: sales cloud, service cloud, sales platform and other, and marketing commerce cloud. Service cloud is the company's second-largest cloud. It crossed $1 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time in fiscal Q1. This makes it the company's second cloud to achieve a $4 billion annual revenue run rate.

Service cloud revenue was up 20% year over year in fiscal Q1, nearly double the 11% growth rate its largest cloud offering -- sales -- saw over the same time frame.

Check on Salesforce after market close on Thursday, Aug. 22 to see how these metrics fared in fiscal Q2.

Daniel Sparks has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2021 $100 calls on The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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