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Salesforce.com Soars as it Counts on AI

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 4th 2018

Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) delivered another stellar performance in the last quarter. But the company couldn’t deliver a promising outlook for the coming quarter. Despite that, the market is pleased with the company and its stock has soared to record high levels.

Salesforce’s Financials

Salesforce’s second quarter revenues grew 27% over the year to $3.28 billion, above analyst projection of $3.23 billion. Adjusted EPS of $0.71 was also ahead of the market’s expected earnings of $0.47 per share. Unearned revenue, which includes future billings, grew 24% to $5.88 billion, ahead of the market’s expectations of a 23% growth. It ended the quarter with a net profit of $299 million, compared with a profit of $17.7 million a year ago.

By segment, Subscription and support revenues grew 28% to $3.06 billion. Professional Services and Other revenues climbed 14% to $221 million. Sales Cloud grew 12.7% over the year to surpass the $1 billion threshold in quarterly revenues for the first time this quarter.

During the quarter, the Salesforce platform grew 32% and including MuleSoft, it grew 54%.

For the current quarter, Salesforce forecast revenues of $3.355-$3.365 billion with an adjusted EPS of $0.49-$0.50. The market was looking for revenues of $3.35 billion for the quarter with an EPS of $0.53.

Salesforce expects to end the year with revenues of $13.13-$13.18 billion with an EPS of $2.50-$2.52. It had earlier forecast the full year revenues at $13.08-$13.13 billion. Salesforce is still on track to generate $23 billion in revenues by fiscal 2022. The market expected Salesforce to post $13.13 billion in revenues with an EPS of $2.31 for the year.

Salesforce also announced the promotion of Keith Block as the co-CEO. Prior to the announcement, Block had served as the president and chief operating officer. Analysts believe that the position may work out well for Salesforce since both the co-CEOs have complementary skill sets. Benioff is one of the best evangelists in tech, while Block has a proven history with operations.

Salesforce’s AI Expansion

Salesforce is focusing its efforts on its artificial intelligence platform Einstein. According to its research, AI-related CRM spending will grow to $46.3 billion in 2021. Other market surveys estimate that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be handled by Bots. Keeping with the times, Salesforce introduced Einstein Bots as part of its service cloud upgrade. Bots will enable its customers to improve customer experience for both service and sales platform. For instance, the bots will now be able to handle routine customer service requests using a mix of machine learning, natural language processing, and customer history to address queries. Also, when the Bots realize the need for human intervention, they will transfer the call to a human customer service associate.

It also provided open source access to its automatic machine learning library for structured data that helps power Salesforce Einstein. Its research team also introduced deep learning breakthroughs that now allow for a single model to master ten different natural language processing patterns at once.

Earlier this quarter, Salesforce announced the acquisition of Datorama, a cloud-based, AI-powered marketing intelligence and analytics platform for enterprises, agencies, and publishers. Datorama helps over 3,000 leading global agencies and brands to optimize marketing campaigns, automate reporting, and make data-driven decisions faster. The acquisition will help Salesforce expand AI into its Marketing Cloud offering as well. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

I would like to know from you about how you feel about Salesforce’s AI features? What additional features would make the service exceptional? Are its offerings good enough to keep the company soaring?

Its stock is trading at record high levels of $152.14 with a market capitalization of $113 billion. It had touched a record high of $154.97 earlier last week. The stock has been steadily climbing from the 52-week low of $92.11 it had fallen to in September last year.

Photo credit:  Seesmic.com/Flickr.com.

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