Whether to buy CRM stock often boils down to how an investor views two fundamental trends.One is rising corporate spending on digital transformation projects.And two is Salesforce.com ‘s ( CRM ) penchant for making big acquisitions, such as Slack Technologies ( WORK ), a maker of workplace collaboration software.
The enterprise software maker has dropped the “.com” from its legal name.The name change from Salesforce.com to Salesforce Inc.was effective April 4.
The company will continue to trade as CRM stock.
Salesforce reported January-quarter earnings that fell from a year earlier but topped views, while revenue beat analyst estimates.
One issue is how software growth stocks are doing generally.CRM stock has clawed back to its 50-day moving average.
A closely watched software benchmark, the iShares Expanded Tech-Software ETF ( IGV ), rose nearly 1% in March.
It was the IGV’s first positive month since October.But the IGV index is still down 13% in 2022.
For all of 2021, the IGV software index gained 12.3% vs.the S&P 500’s nearly 27% advance.
In 2020, the software index soared nearly 52% vs.the S&P 500’s gain of 16.3%.
Amid volatility in the Nasdaq, Salesforce stock has retreated 16% this year.
Salesforce Stock: Co-CEO Structure Returns The deal for Slack closed in July.
Salesforce promoted Bret Taylor to act as co-chief executive alongside current CEO Marc Benioff late last year.Taylor had served as Salesforce’s president and chief operating officer since 2019.Before that, he was chief product officer.
Twitter ( TWTR ) named Taylor its new chairman on Nov.29.
Salesforce had a co-CEO structure earlier.But Keith Block, viewed as a possible successor to Benioff, stepped down as co-CEO in early 2020.
CRM stock sells software under a subscription model.Its software helps businesses organize and handle sales operations and customer relationships.The company has expanded into marketing, e-commerce and data analytics.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, demand for next-generation collaboration and productivity tools has increased.In addition, many companies aim to automate operations and track key business metrics in order to support employees working from home.
One view is that spending on digital transformation projects will continue to be strong as the Covid-19 emergency eases.Such projects turn paperwork into electronic records and automate business workflows.
More companies are investing in business analytics/artificial intelligence tools that scrub customer data.
CRM Stock: Digital Transformation Spending Key Morgan Stanley analyst Keith Weiss said in a report to clients that Salesforce stock is well positioned based on a survey of spending priorities for chief information officers.
“Salesforce’s core portfolio squarely addresses CIO’s top priorities for digital transformation,” Weiss said.”Our survey bolsters confidence in industry growth forecasts as marketing, CRM and customer service ranked highest among priorities.Meanwhile, we see momentum building in the market addressed by Slack as businesses implement tools to better collaborate and improve productivity while working remote in the ‘new normal’ post Covid.”
At an investor day in December 2020, Salesforce said it aims to double revenue to $50 billion by 2026, including a $4 billion contribution from Slack.
At the same time, Salesforce stock lowered its organic revenue growth target to 19% from 20% over the next four years.
Salesforce Stock Joins Dow Jones Industrial Average CRM stock in 2020 was added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average.Further, it replaced Exxon Mobil ( XOM ) in the 30-stock benchmark.
Meanwhile, CRM stock recently was added to the IBD Long Term Leaders list .
Also, the bar keeps rising when investors look at Salesforce’s “biggest acquisition ever.” Its purchase of Exact Target in 2013 was followed by e-commerce platform Demandware in 2016, and MuleSoft in 2018.Last year, Salesforce ponied up $15.7 billion in an all-stock deal to buy data analytics firm Tableau Software.
Then came the Slack deal.Amid growing competition with Microsoft ( MSFT ), Salesforce agreed to pay $27.7 billion for workplace collaboration software maker.
The upbeat view is that acquisitions have enabled Salesforce to expand from its roots in customer relationship management software into marketing, e-commerce and other markets.
Salesforce is one of many big-cap tech stocks to watch .Started in 1999, Salesforce went public in 2004.Benioff, who is also Salesforce’s founder, worked at Oracle for 13 years before he left to start the software company.
CRM Stock: Core Business Strength An Issue Microsoft’s Dynamics has gained traction as a lower-priced alternative to Salesforce tools, some analysts say.In addition, Microsoft is putting more salespeople behind the Dynamics business.
Also, Salesforce has been a fierce rival of Oracle ( ORCL ).Competition with Adobe Systems ( ADBE ), the digital media and marketing software firm , has been rising.
Newer rivals include Zendesk ( ZEN ) and HubSpot ( HUBS ).
And Twilio ( TWLO ) has jumped into customer relationship management software with an acquisition.
The customers of software-as-a-service, or SaaS, companies like Salesforce purchase renewable subscriptions, rather than one-time software licenses.Customers receive automatic software updates via the web.
Also, the company spends about 14% of revenue on research and development, relatively high for a software company.Increased hiring and wage inflation for software engineers also have been a headwind to margin growth.
At an analyst day on Sept.23, Salesforce raised its fiscal 2022 revenue outlook and forecast fiscal 2023 revenue slightly above expectations.
For fiscal 2022, which ends in December, Salesforce said it expects revenue in a range of $26.25 billion to $26.35 billion.
Its earlier guidance was $26 billion at the high end.
Salesforce Stock: Fundamental Analysis Salesforce said it expects fiscal 2023 revenue in a range of $31.65 billion to $31.80 billion vs.estimates of $31.52 billion.In addition, Chief Financial Officer Amy Weaver committed to higher margins.
Including recently acquired Slack Technologies, Salesforce fourth-quarter earnings fell 19% to 84 cents on an adjusted basis.Revenue climbed 26% to $7.33 billion, including $312 million from Slack.
In addition, CRM stock analysts expected Salesforce to report earnings of 75 cents a share on sales of $7.24 billion.
The enterprise software maker said current remaining performance obligations, or CRPO bookings, rose 22% to $22 billion.
That topped analyst estimates of $21.42 billion.
Meanwhile, CRPO bookings are an aggregate of deferred revenue and order backlog.
For the current quarter ending in April, Salesforce’s revenue outlook topped expectations.The software maker expects revenue in a range of $7.37 billion to $7.38 billion vs.estimates of $7.27 billion.
Also, the company forecast earnings in a range of 93 cents to 94 cents per share versus estimates of $1 a share for CRM.
Salesforce Builds Artificial Intelligence Platform One technology that Salesforce hopes will drive more revenue is artificial intelligence.The enterprise software maker introduced its “Einstein” AI software cloud platform in September 2016.
The first Einstein AI software tools helped salespeople predict which deals are most likely to close based on a company’s historical lead and account data.
In addition, Salesforce has integrated AI tools into other enterprise software offerings over the past three years, targeting industries such as financial services in digital transformation.Einstein AI primarily works via chat bots.
Salesforce in 2019 agreed to buy data analytics firm Tableau for $15.7 billion in an all-stock deal.Tableau provides data visualization software.In addition, it enables customers to build databases, graphs and maps using time series analytics, a technique that analyzes a series of data points ordered in time.
Also, Salesforce expects synergy between its Einstein artificial intelligence tools and Tableau’s business intelligence software.
In early October, Salesforce announced that it would rebrand Einstein Analytics as Tableau CRM.
CRM Stock: Recent Acquisitions In 2018, Salesforce bought MuleSoft for $6.5 billion in cash and stock.MuleSoft’s software automates the integration of new tools with legacy enterprise platforms and speeds application development.
Meanwhile, Salesforce spent $4.6 billion on acquisitions in 2016.They included e-commerce platform Demandware.
E-commerce has boomed amid the coronavirus pandemic.The shift to online shopping has provided a lift to Salesforce’s “Commerce Cloud,” which has its roots in the Demandware purchase.
Furthermore, Salesforce’s $2.5 billion purchase of Exact Target in 2013 jump-started its move into marketing software.
Bullish analysts say Salesforce AI’s tools, plus Tableau and MuleSoft will make a powerful combination for digital transformation projects.
Further, Salesforce aims to partner with IT services firms such as Accenture ( ACN ) to add customers.Despite U.S.-China trade tensions, Salesforce in July added Alibaba Group ( BABA ) as a sales channel partner in China.
Is Salesforce Stock A Buy? In cloud computing, Salesforce has partnered with Google for data analytics.In addition, Salesforce has expanded its venture capital investing .
After forming a long cup base from September 2020 to September 2021, Salesforce stock hit an all-time high of 311.75 on Nov.
9.The stock pulled back in late 2021 as the software sector weakened.
According to IBD Stock Checkup , CRM stock currently has a Relative Strength Rating of 29 out of a best-possible 99.
The best stocks tend to have ratings of 80 and above.
CRM stock holds an IBD Composite Rating of 47 out of a best possible 99.
IBD’s Composite Rating combines five separate proprietary ratings into one easy-to-use rating.The best growth stocks have a Composite Rating of 90 or better.
In addition, CRM stock has an Accumulation/Distribution Rating of C-minus.The rating analyzes price and volume changes in a stock over the past 13 weeks of trading.The rating, on an A+ to E scale, measures institutional buying and selling in a stock.
A+ signifies heavy institutional buying; E means heavy selling.Think of the C grade as neutral.
As of the market open on April 4, CRM stock trades well below a cup-and-handle entry point of 284.60, according to IBD MarketSmith analysis .It likely needs to form a new base to be actionable.
Follow Reinhardt Krause on Twitter @reinhardtk_tech for updates on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and 5G wireless.
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