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Microsoft Should Acquire Tableau

Posted on Monday, Nov 7th 2016

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According to an IDC report published last month, the Big Data and business analytics market is estimated to grow 12% annually over the next five year period to be worth $203 billion by 2020 from $115 billion in 2015. But despite the high growth in the market, Tableau Software’s (NYSE: DATA) growth is not impressing the market much.

Tableau’s Financials

Last week, Tableau announced its Q1 revenues grew 21% over the year to $206.1 million, falling short of the Street’s forecast of $213.8 million. Controlled spending measures during the quarter helped manage earnings as they came in at $0.16 per share compared with the market’s forecast of $0.07 per share. Tableau blamed the revenues miss on extended sales cycles on large deals in the US and softness in the international markets.

By segment, license revenues grew 13% to $116.7 million and Maintenance and Services revenues brought in the remaining $89.4 million. The market was expecting license revenues of $124.5 million for the quarter. International revenues grew 30% over the year to $58.2 million, but the company did see issues in the EMEA segment, especially from the UK.

For the current quarter, Tableau forecast revenues of $225 million-$235 million and EPS of $0.09-$0.16. The market was looking for revenues of $250.1 million and an EPS of $0.20. For the next year, Tableau expects growth ranging from 0%-10% over the current year compared with the Street’s expectations of growth of 22.4% growth.

Tableau’s Future

Tableau has been floundering over the past few months due to increased competition from other bigger players who have also started a price war in the industry. To address the lack of growth, Tableau announced a change in leadership last quarter. It appointed Adam Selipskyas, a former executive at Amazon’s AWS division, as its Chief Executive Officer and President. Co-founder and CEO Christian Chabot has stepped down from the position and will act as chairman of the board.

Besides leadership change, Tableau is also looking to win the market with technology innovations. In August this year, it released its latest platform Tableau 10. Since its release, the platform has been adapted rapidly by the market and Tableau claims that it has witnessed the highest rate of customer adoption for any of its new releases. Tableau 10 features advanced analytics capabilities and a flexible platform that provided tools for developers as well. It recently also released new APIs to enable developers to deliver embedded analytics within their customer applications, to integrate Tableau within enterprise workflows and add new custom data sources from external sources.

Meanwhile, Tableau is already working on a beta version of 10.1 that will simplify the deployment of Tableau on enterprise level. It will include additional features such as updates to its server and rest APIs, a new mobile developer toolkit, JSON support, and expanded support for international geographic analysis.

But all of these moves may not be of much help to Tableau as giants like Microsoft are making a much bigger push into the market. Earlier this quarter, Microsoft announced its strategy in the data visualization space by expanding focus on the Power BI application. To help bridge the gap between enterprise users and their technical capabilities in using the Power BI application, Microsoft is offering free training sessions. Analysts also believe that the new Surface Studio announced at the Windows 10 event is also geared at helping data visualizers create better visual aids in a much simpler and a more effective manner. Given Microsoft’s push into the BI segment, it could look at buying out Tableau. Tableau has certainly become more affordable at its current valuation and there is no denying that Tableau does have the skills and market presence needed for a BI position.

Tableau’s stock is trading at $44.7 with a market capitalization of $3.3 billion. In February this year, it had fallen to a 52-week low of $36.60. The stock is a far cry from the high of $104.92 it was trading at back in November last year. It fell 12% on the announcement of its results and has fallen 53% since the start of the year.

Photo Credit: KamiPhuc /Flickr.com

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