After the bell on Monday, Salesforce reported January quarter (fiscal fourth-quarter) revenue of $3.6 billion (up 26% annually, or 20% excluding the impact of last May’s MuleSoft acquisition) and non-GAAP EPS of $0.70. Revenue topped a $3.56 billion consensus; EPS officially beat a $0.55 consensus, but would have missed by $0.02 if not for a $0.17 benefit related to tax adjustments.
The cloud CRM software giant is guiding for April quarter revenue of $3.67 billion to $3.68 billion (up 22%) and EPS of $0.60 to $0.61, below consensus estimates of $3.69 billion and $0.63. However, guidance for fiscal 2020 (it ends in Jan. 2020) is a little stronger: It’s for revenue of $15.95 billion to $16.05 billion (up 20% to 21%) and EPS of $2.74 to $2.76, which compares with a consensus of $15.97 billion and $2.75.
Salesforce fell 2.7% in after-hours trading to $154.25. Shares were up 29% over the prior 12 months going into earnings, and were respectively trading for close to 40 times and 32 times their fiscal 2020 and 2021 free cash flow consensus estimates.
Salesforce’s decline comes after Workday, the top player in the cloud human capital management (HCM) software market, registered a roughly 10% post-earnings drop over two trading days, in spite of beating estimates and issuing solid fiscal 2020 subscription revenue guidance.
Here are some notable takeaways from Salesforce’s earnings report and call.
1. Billings and Backlog Growth Were Strong
Three months after issuing light billings guidance that was blamed on forex and the pull-in of some deals into the October quarter, Salesforce reported its billings (defined as revenue plus the sequential change in Salesforce’s unearned revenue balance) for the seasonally strong January quarter totaled $6.79 billion, up 22% and soundly above a $6.43 billion consensus.
The company also reported its remaining performance obligation (RPO), defined as all future revenue that Salesforce has under contract but hasn’t yet recognized on its income statement, totaled $25.7 billion at the end of January. That officially up 25%, and up 23% excluding MuleSoft.
The current RPO, defined as future revenue expected to be recognized within 12 months, rose 24% to $11.9 billion. Salesforce also expects current RPO to be up about 24% at the end of its April quarter.
2. Most of Salesforce’s Business Segments Saw Strong Growth
For the second quarter in a row, the Sales Cloud segment, which covers Salesforce’s offerings for sales professionals, saw just 11% annual growth, with subscription and support revenue coming in at $1.05 billion. However, also like the previous quarter, other segments grew much faster.
The Service Cloud segment, which provides customer support and engagement software, grew 22% to $964 million. And the Marketing and Commerce Cloud segment, which among other things includes solutions for running e-commerce websites and e-mail marketing campaigns, saw revenue grow 22% to $535 million.
The “Salesforce Platform and Other” segment — it includes the Heroku and Lightning platforms for developing and running cloud apps, as well as MuleSoft’s solutions for managing app programming interfaces (APIs) — saw revenue grow 54% to $825 million. Excluding the $156 million in subscription and support contributed by MuleSoft (a sum that implies strong growth relative to what MuleSoft was delivering before it was acquired), the segment’s revenue grew 25%.
On the call, chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff asserted the CRM software market is the “fastest-growing market [within] enterprise software,” and that Salesforce continues taking share within it. “According to IDC, Salesforce commands 20% of the overall CRM market, more than the next three competitors combined,” he said. Those three rivals appear to be Oracle (ORCL) , SAP (SAP) and Microsoft (MSFT) .
3. Heavy Spending Remains a Profit Headwind
Salesforce’s operating expenses rose 32% annually last quarter on a GAAP basis to $2.52 billion, with sales and marketing spend rising 32% to $1.64 billion. On a non-GAAP basis, opex rose 29% to $2.17 billion. Headcount rose by 1,604 sequentially to 35,995.
Much like other cloud software firms that recognize revenue from annual subscription payments a quarter at a time, Salesforce’s free cash flow (FCF – operating cash flow minus capital expenditures) is higher than its net income. In fiscal 2019, FCF grew 27% to $2.8 billion. Salesforce’s fiscal 2020 operating cash flow and capex guidance suggests FCF growth will be slightly higher than expected revenue growth of 20% to 21%.
4. International and Large-Deal Momentum Still Looks Good
Though a strong dollar was a moderate headwind and European CEOs are said by Benioff to have “more anxiety” than CEOs in other regions, revenue from the EMEA region rose 25% to $677 million. Revenue from the Asia-Pac region rose 25% to $345 million.
These regions still only account for 28% of Salesforce’s total revenue, but that figure should gradually rise. Co-CEO Keith Block noted 42% of Salesforce’s new hires last quarter were outside of the Americas, and that its net new partners rose 110% in EMEA and 79% in Asia-Pac in fiscal 2019.
Also mentioned by Block: Salesforce saw its “$20 million-plus engagements” grow 48% annually, and that two 9-figure renewal and expansion deals were inked last quarter.
5. Salesforce Set an Ambitious Long-Term Revenue Target
Salesforce says it’s now aiming for fiscal 2023 revenue of $26 billion to $28 billion. For comparison, Salesforce posted fiscal 2019 revenue of $13.28 billion.
The target comes fifteen months after Salesforce set a fiscal 2022 revenue goal of $20 billion to $22 billion. That goal was issued before Salesforce had agreed to buy MuleSoft.