Salesforce.com posts bigger loss, CFO to resign

Net:Work 2010: Marc Benioff – CEO, salesforce.com

SaaS pioneer Salesforce.com posted a GAAP loss of $116.6 million or 19 cents a share for its fourth quarter ending January 31. That’s compared to a loss of $20.8 million or 4 cents a share this time last year. And Graham Smith, who has been CFO of the San Francisco–based company for six years, will resign in March, 2015.

Salesforce.com launched 15 years ago to focus on sales force automation and customer relationship management delivered from its servers, as opposed to running on customer premises. But in recent years the company has broadened its target market, spending billions of dollars to acquire companies like ExactTarget, Buddy Media, and others in marketing automation and social media analytics.

In those areas, Salesforce.com is locked in an arms race with Oracle, which has been on a buying binge of its own — acquiring Eloqua for $871 million in late 2012 and BlueKai just this week.

Profitability, in part because of its acquisitions, has proven elusive for Salesforce.com, which has posted a GAAP profit in only a few quarters of its existence.

But Nomura Securities analyst Rick Sherlund (who rates the company a buy) sees a silver lining. In a research note about the earnings results, he wrote:

“Like most SaaS companies, Salesforce continues to invest aggressively in driving new business, but unlike some of the smaller companies is profitable on a non-GAAP basis and cash flow positive. Non-GAAP EPS of $0.07 per share was essentially in line with the Street at $0.06.”

He and other observers said the addition of former Oracle North America sales chief Keith Block will drive more and bigger enterprise deals to Salesforce.com.

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