Salesforce revenue forecast falls short as cloud rivals gain

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(Bloomberg) -- Inc. gave a first-quarter revenue forecast that fell short of analysts’ projections, hampered by rising competition from rival business-software makers with their own cloud products.

Revenue in the period ending in April will be $2.34 billion to $2.35 billion, the San Francisco-based company said Tuesday in a statement. Analysts projected $2.37 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit before certain items will be 25 cents to 26 cents a share, compared with the analysts’ average estimate of 30 cents.

Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff has been trying to bolster Salesforce’s product line through a spate of acquisitions, seeking growth in new markets as bigger companies such as Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp. pursue its traditional cloud turf. The company’s annual revenue growth has slowed to less than 30 percent, and analysts expect that pace to decelerate to less than 20 percent in fiscal 2019.

“The guide for Q1 was below where the street was expecting -- modestly, but below,” said Joel Fishbein, an analyst at BTIG, adding that Salesforce still had healthy growth with improving profitability.

The company raised its full-year revenue forecast to $10.15 billion to $10.2 billion, from $10.1 billion to $10.15 billion projected in November. Analysts estimated $10.16 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Full-year adjusted earnings will be $1.27 a share to $1.29 a share compared with analysts’ projections of $1.28.

Salesforce shares, which have risen 19 percent this year, declined about 3 percent in extended trading after closing at $81.35 in New York.

Fourth-Quarter Results

The company reported profit, excluding certain costs, of 28 cents a share in the fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 31. Revenue climbed 27 percent to $2.29 billion. Analysts had predicted profit of 25 cents on revenue of $2.28 billion.

“We drove tremendous execution,” said Keith Block, chief operating officer, noting that last year’s purchase of Demandware is already showing results. “We are just hitting our stride.” Demandware expanded Salesforce’s reach into e-commerce services.

The fourth-quarter net loss widened to $51.4 million, or 7 cents a share, from a loss of $25.5 million, or 4 cents, a year earlier.

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