The entire cloud, cyber security, and software as a service sector was down ahead of the after-hours earnings report from Salesforce (CRM) today. The worry wasn’t so much that the company would miss on fourth quarter earnings, but that this earnings growth rocket would lower guidance for the first quarter of 2019–and thus send the stocks in the rest of the sector down, down, down.
And that’s pretty much what happened when Salesforce reported.The company beat Wall Street forecasts for fourth quarter earnings (Salesforce’s quarter ended in January so this was a report on fiscal fourth quarter 2019 results) by 15 cents a share and on revenue (26.3% year over year growth to $3.6 billion vs the Wall Street consensus of $3.56 billion.)
And when it came time to announce guidance for the first quarter of final 2020, Salesforce told Wall Street to expect earnings of 60 cents to 61 cents a share (vs forecasts for 63 cents) and revenue of $3.67 billion to $3.68 billion (vs forecasts of $3.7 billion.) For all of fiscal 2020 Salesforce said earnings would be $2.74- to $2.76 versus Wall Street forecasts for $2.76. Projected revenue will be $15.95 billion to $16.05 billion versus the Wall Street forecast of $15.99 billion.
That’s not a huge cut to guidance–and for the year I’d say that Salesforce meet guidance–except that the market is used to seeing Salesforce raise guidance each quarter.In anticipation of the results the market sent Salesforce down 3.66% in regular trading and then another 3.12% in after-hours trading to a final $153.59.There’s a reasonable chance that the market will rethink some of that selling tomorrow and that the stock will rebound slightly, but in the context of what investors have come to expect from the stock and set against worries for an earnings reason for U.S. stocks as a whole in 2019, I don’t see Salesforce rallying quickly from today’s earnings report.
That doesn’t mean you should sell the shares if you’ve got a holding period in mind of more than 6 months. As part of that disappointing guidance Salesforce said that it is looking for $26 billion to $28 billion in revenue by fiscal 2023–which would be a doubling of organic revenue in the next four years. That’s growth I’d like to hold for. (The stock is still looking at solid support at the 50-day moving average of $149.33 and at the 200-day moving average of $143.46.)
Salesforce is up 15.49% since I added it to my Jubak Picks Portfolio on November 1, 2018. As of today March 4 I’m leaving my target price at $185 a share.