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5 Things Salesforce.com Management Wants You To Know

By Tim Brugger - Sep 1, 2015 at 9:00AM

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After another strong quarter, the software leader’s management team has a few things it believes investors should focus on.

Salesforce.com (CRM 0.42%) had yet another stellar quarter in fiscal 2016 Q2. Revenue jumped a solid 24% to $1.63 billion, and its GAAP (including one-time items) earnings-per-share (EPS) of $0.00 may not seem overly impressive, but looks good in comparison to the year-ago period's negative ($0.10). Salesforce.com was able to accomplish the relatively strong EPS despite increased expenses of about $300 million.

Investors also appeared to like what they saw from Salesforce.com, both after earnings were announced and the ensuing market sell-off. Though not entirely immune to the recent negativity, Salesforce.com's share price remains above pre-earnings release levels. Considering the severity of the general sell-off, Salesforce.com's stock has performed admirably. Now the challenge is to deliver on several key objectives to maintain Salesforce.com's growth.

Expectations remain high
Yet again, CEO Marc Benioff has raised fiscal 2016 revenue and EPS guidance. The latest bump in expectations follows a higher forecast from Q1, making it that much more important. Now Salesforce.com is planning on revenue for the year of between $6.6 billion and $6.625 billion, which would be yet another 20% plus jump in sales.

There are several reasons for Salesforce.com's confidence this fiscal year. More recurring revenue, for one, as "74% of the value of all subscriptions were issued with annual terms," as per Salesforce.com CFO Mark Hawkins. Hawkins is also expecting improved margins compared to fiscal 2015, which will help to drive bottomline results, too.

Next up, $7 billion
Benioff wasted no time during Salesforce.com's earnings call reiterating his pledge from earlier this year that the company would attain a $7 billion run-rate before year's end. Considering that just a quarter ago Salesforce.com was tracking at $6 billion in revenue, and is now sitting at $6.5 billion, Benioff's plans to become the "fastest enterprise software company" to $7 billion is right on track.

That being said, why stop at $7 billion? Salesforce.com isn't; its plans are to reach a $10 billion run rate, also quicker than any of its competitors. One way to drive that growth will be Salesforce.com's fast-growing marketing cloud unit. While it remains the smallest division based on revenues, Hawkins noted the unit more than doubled its number of "big deals" last quarter. No mention of what constitutes a "big deal," but marketing cloud sales grew more than 25% in Q2.

The bottom line
Continuing to grow revenues is obviously crucial, but Benioff hasn't forgotten about the bottom line. On a non-GAAP basis (excluding one-time costs), last quarter's $0.19 EPS was over 40% higher than a year ago. With more "big deals" coming across Salesforce.com's business units, considering the aforementioned margin improvement and its "on-going expense management" plans, investors should expect even more non-GAAP EPS growth in the future.

However, securing bigger deals and growing each of its products lines at such a rapid pace will also take improvement among Salesforce.com's non-America's region. Benioff has already put steps in motion to address Salesforce.com's lack of geographic diversity.

2 more things to note
As I've noted before, even as Salesforce.com's three geographic regions -- Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific -- continue to grow as measured by revenue, the disparity between the three as percentages of total sales leans more toward the states with each successive quarter. Which is why Benioff spent "most of last quarter" in Europe, and is on his way back the first week in Sept.

Yes, Europe sales grew 29% last quarter, the fastest among the three regions; however, its percentage of total sales actually declined to 17% from last year's 19%. A trip back to Europe should help add to the nearly 10,000 new European customers gained with Salesforce.com's renewed focus on the region, but so too will its strategic alliances, particularly with Microsoft (MSFT 3.20%).

Benioff pointed to Microsoft as one of Salesforce.com's most exciting partners, and a "key part of our growth strategy." In fact, while glowing about the upcoming Dreamforce conference scheduled for next month, Benioff noted that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will be a keynote speaker. With new cloud products scheduled to be announced at Dreamforce, a focus on Europe, and sky-high expectations for the balance of this year and beyond, Salesforce.com management looks poised to deliver.

 

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