Salesforce, inc. (NYSE:CRM) to equity guys isn’t quite what the Yen has been to macro guys, i.e. the “widowmaker”, but it might be getting there.  It’s a stock and business that many people love to dislike, and always think a crash is imminent. Yet it’s continued to ‘climb the wall of worry’, with no end in sight. While, inc. (NYSE:CRM) is back on LST’s radar and higher up in priority now, LST is hesitant to short here and now, for the following reasons:

The reasons LST does not like, inc. (NYSE:CRM) from the short side here (from a purely alpha, not beta perspective):

  • It’s not clear why CRM can’t generate ~$3.0 billion in revenue, & trade at 10x that, in the near future. That would take the stock north of $200/share.
  • There is a high interest in shorting CRM (short interest and sentiment wise) – this means there is always a non-negligible risk that that itself will invite unscrupulous marginal buyers who will try to pressure the shorts out. The offsetting factor to that is CRM is large enough now, whereby even with high institutional interest in shorting, the pie is large …
  • ‘Big data’ and ‘cloud’, as gimmicky as they may sound, seem to represent real secular business trends. Why short into growing industries? Investment implication = Overvalued can become more overvalued, or at least remained similarly overvalued on the back of growing revenue. If your belief is that revenue will slow, if not reverse, that’s an entirely different story. But LST is not in the business of glorified coin-flipping.
  • The short/skeptics’ arguments sound lazy/recycled, at least upon first glance. (Valuation this, earnings that, blah blah blah).
  • If the acquisitions in 2012 are being used for nefarious purposes, that can work against you for now, unless you believe in some hard catalyst-induced implosion.
  • Its stock price is high, so it’s relatively cheap for CRM to buy moar revenue…
  • Some technical/chart types are attracted to it because the technical/charts look good to them…which can be violently self-fulfilling.
  • Unclear what the acquisition risk is, albeit it would be a strong contender for the AOL Time Warner of our time, if it were to happen.

Having said all the above, CRM looks a lot more interesting on the short side to LST currently than it did in 2013 for various reasons, which LST may or may not publicly share at some future point. Note that LST always reserves the right to “trade first, analyze later”, but the above list of concerns is no small one.