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Why CommVault Systems, Inc. Fell 15% Today

By Anders Bylund - Jul 28, 2015 at 12:06PM

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The data management expert is struggling to find new clients, and could really use a boost to its ailing software sales.

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 data management specialist CommVault Systems ( CVLT 2.62% ) fell as much as 15% in Tuesday's morning session, before bouncing back to a more modest 12% swoon by noon. The company reported first-quarter results for fiscal year 2016 this morning, falling far short of analyst expectations.

So what: CommVault's sales fell 9% year-over-year to $139 million. Adjusted earnings plunged 73% lower, landing at $0.12 per share. Analysts were expecting earnings of $0.24 per share on revenue of roughly $148 million. It wasn't even close.

Now what: In prepared press statements, CommVault CEO Robert Hammer admitted that the quarter "proved to be more challenging than we expected."

In particular, currency exchange headwinds held the company back. On a constant currency basis, sales would have declined just 2% year-over-year. In that light, software sales would still have plunged 15% lower while service revenues would have delivered 9% growth over the year-ago period.

In other words, CommVault is having no trouble selling service contracts to existing customers but a very hard time finding new buyers of its software solutions in the first place. Hammer said that his company is positioned to "propel improvement in the second half of the fiscal year."

Image source: CommVault.

Specifically, he believes that "the substantial changes we are making will strengthen our competitive position, increase our available market, make it easier for our channel partners to sell, and enable us to execute our plans to significantly improve revenue and earnings growth."

Maybe so, but these first-quarter figures hardly support that rosy view. If anything, I expect CommVault to have a hard time finding growth in future periods if the basic software platform isn't finding new buyers.

On a conference call with analysts, CFO Brian Carolan said that his earlier goal of returning to healthy software sales growth in the second half "is no longer realistic." Instead, he'd be content with any sequential growth he can get in the last two quarters.

CommVault shares set new multi-year lows this morning, dating back to September of 2011. The company's once-promising sales and earnings growth curves have trailed off dramatically over the last three quarters, and this report showed no signs of improvement.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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