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Salesforce.com: Strong fourth quarter, light earnings outlook, $2 billion revenue mark in sight

Salesforce.com's fourth quarter earnings were better than expected, but the earnings outlook for the current quarter was light. The company, however, expects to surpass the $2 billion revenue mark in the fiscal year ahead.
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Written by Larry Dignan on

Salesforce.com's fourth quarter earnings were better than expected, but the earnings outlook for the current quarter was light. The company, however, expects to surpass the $2 billion revenue mark in the fiscal year ahead.

The company reported fourth quarter earnings of $10.9 million, or 8 cents a share, down from 16 cents a share a year ago. Non-GAAP earnings were 31 cents a share. Revenue for the fourth quarter was $457 million, up 29 percent from a year ago.

Wall Street was expecting fourth quarter earnings of 26 cents a share on revenue of $453 million.

For fiscal 2011, Salesforce reported earnings of $64.5 million, or 47 cents a share, on revenue of $1.66 billion.

As for the outlook, Salesforce was upbeat about fiscal 2012, but the earnings projection was light. The company said it would lose about a penny a share to 2 cents a share in the first quarter on a GAAP basis. Non-GAAP earnings will be 26 cents a share to 27 cents a share. Revenue for the first quarter will be $480 million to $482 million.  The gap between non-GAAP and GAAP earnings are largely due to acquisition accounting.

Wall Street was expecting earnings of 31 cents a share on revenue of $471 million.

For 2012, Salesforce projected earnings of 8 cents a share to 11 cents a share on GAAP. Non-GAAP earnings would be $1.35 a share to $1.38 a share. Revenue for fiscal 2012 will be $2.03 billion to $2.05 billion. Wall Street was expecting earnings of $1.39 a share on revenue of $2.04 billion.

On a conference call, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said the company will continue to acquire smaller companies and that the trade off between revenue growth and profit margins was worth it. Benioff's aim is to get Salesforce to the $3 billion revenue mark. "It's coming," he said.

By the numbers:

  • Subscription and support revenue was $429 million, up 31 percent from a year ago.
  • Deferred revenue in the fourth quarter was $935 million, up 33 percent from a year ago.
  • Salesforce added 5,100 new customers in the fourth quarter.
  • Total customers were 92,300.

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