(Bloomberg) -- Tableau Software Inc., a maker of data analysis and charting software, saw its shares tumble as much as 52 percent in extended trading after it reported fourth-quarter license revenue that fell short of estimates, hurt by competition from cheaper alternatives.
License revenue was $133.1 million, Tableau said Thursday in a statement. That compared with an average analyst estimate of $135 million, said Abhey Lamba, an analyst at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. It’s the first time since the company’s initial public offering in 2013 that Seattle-based Tableau fell short on that key metric, he said.
While the company only narrowly missed projections, Tableau had been exceeding estimates for license revenue in previous quarters, Lamba said. Growth of 31 percent in license sales was also slower than the 57 percent jump posted in the third quarter. That weakness, particularly in what is historically a strong quarter for software sales, may indicate customers are slowing purchases and that Tableau is being hurt by rival products from the likes of Microsoft Corp., which sells its Power BI data-analytics product for as little as an eighth of the price, Lamba said.
“For a Q4, for them to miss a license number is not going to be viewed positively,” Lamba said. “It’s an indication of greater competition. Increasingly Microsoft Power BI is showing up in the conversation.” In the first and second quarters of the year, license revenue rose 74 percent and 60 percent, respectively. In fourth quarter of 2014, the jump was 75 percent.
The shares fell to as low as $39.57 in late trading after the report was released. The stock had gained 2.7 percent to $81.75 at Thursday’s close in New York, and has declined 13 percent in 2016.
Customers have slowed spending, particularly in North America, Chief Financial Officer Tom Walker said on a conference call with analysts.
"Customers are expanding in smaller buckets," he said, especially compared with the year-earlier fourth quarter.
For the first quarter, the company forecast a loss, excluding some items, of 8 cents to 12 cents a share on sales of $160 million to $165 million. Analysts on average were projecting revenue of $180 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. For the year, profit will be 22 cents to 35 cents on sales of $830 million to $850 million, Tableau said.
“Over the years, the competitive dynamic has become more crowded and difficult," Chief Executive Officer Christian Chabot said on the call, adding that win rates remain "stable." “It has gotten thicker and thicker."
Total fourth-quarter revenue rose 42 percent to $202.8 million. Profit, excluding certain costs, was 33 cents a share. On average, analysts had predicted sales of $200.7 million and profit of 16 cents.
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