Salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) is in a difficult position to meet the Wall Street expectations of a 30% annual growth rate in FY2016 as its core business is decelerating. Meanwhile, Bernstein Research analysts Mark L. Moerdler and Zhe Shen estimate that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s commercial cloud business’ revenue run rate will catch up with Salesforce in the next 12 months, and will continue to grow faster organically.
Revenue growth from Salesforce’s core business is slowing
If Salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) wants to maintain the expected growth rate of 30%, it needs to make certain acquisitions and even those acquisitions will have to show strong growth. In the fourth quarter of FY2014 (ended January 31), the company’s revenues grew at 25.7%, excluding the acquisition of ExactTarget. Though it includes all the previous acquisitions, which are estimated to have made up more than 5% of Salesforce’s total revenue. The images below show that its core business growth is slowing, and it will continue to decelerate going forward.
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Even after adding the Service and Marketing Clouds revenue (excluding ExactTarget), which is growing at a faster rate, its growth continues to decelerate. Bernstein Research says that the company needs to make another large acquisition to meet growth expectations.
Salesforce will have to spend at least $3.4B on acquisitions to meet expectations
Salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) will provide details on the breakdown of its Cloud subscription revenue at the end of FY2015. That will show the pace at which is core revenue is slowing, and how much of its growth came though acquisitions. The San Francisco-based company’s first quarter and full-year 2015 guidance suggests deceleration in its core business. Excluding ExactTarget, its growth rate slowed from 26.2% in Q3, 2014 to 25.7% in Q4, 2014. And its first quarter 2015 guidance suggests revenue growth of 23%-24%.
Before its acquisition by Salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM), ExactTarget’s revenue was growing at 7.5% QoQ. So, it should contribute about $103.2 million in Salesforce’s Q1, 2015 revenue. Bernstein estimates that, excluding ExactTarget but including all other past acquisitions, the company’s Q1 revenue should grow between 23.4%-24%.
Bernstein Research estimates that Salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) will need about $550 million of inorganic revenue in FY2016 to maintain the 30% growth rate. Notably, the company acquired ExactTarget at a price/revenue multiple of 7.6x. Assuming a conservative price/revenue multiple of 6x, the company will have to shell out $3.4 billion on acquisitions.
Salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) shares were up 1.19% to $52.71 at 12:11 PM EDT on Friday.