Splunk Inc (SPLK) Stock Down 17% As Rising Expenses Startle Investors

Splunk 1qfy15 0514

Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK) reported 1QFY15 earnings of $85.9 million, a 50% jump over last year, but markets punished the company because it’s operating expenses grew even faster, up 84% year on year to $121.8 million, driving operating losses from $15.7 million in 1QFY14 to $50.1 million this year. But not everyone has turned bearish on the big data stock.

Sentiment will turn more positive: Cantor Fitzgerald

“As investors begin to separate the wheat from the chaff in the cloud and Big Data world, we believe the sentiment around Splunk will ultimately turn more positive and the stock will reflect the attractive growth characteristics of the business,” writes Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian J. White, who reiterates his Buy rating for Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK) with a $99 price target (currently $41) based on 22x calendar year 2015E sales.

White is less concerned with Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK) turning a profit this quarter or next, and instead is focused on the company’s growing revenues and healthy balance sheet. The $85.9 million in revenue beat his estimate of $79.6 million and the consensus estimate of $80.5 million, and pro forma EPS was negative $0.04 as opposed to White’s projected negative $0.05 and a consensus negative $0.06. Splunk also had $918.6 million in cash at the end of the quarter, up from $897.5 million at the end of 4QFY14, and has no debt.

Splunk’s strong balance sheet gives it room to grow

“Splunk’s liquid balance sheet provides the necessary liquidity for continued organic investment and small, bolt-on acquisition opportunities,” writes White. “We believe the company will continue to aggressively invest in the business, and thus we expect minimal profits over the next few years.”

Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK) management provided strong guidance for the rest of the year, and White expects to see more growth with new product offerings opportunities to expand into the Internet of Things. It’s easy to be cynical about non-profitable tech companies that focus on growth without any clear plan on how to become profitable, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Splunk. Instead, they are choosing to plow their profits back into R&D and marketing to build a strong position in a growing market.

Splunk Inc’s (NASDAQ:SPLK) Hadoop and NoSQL analytics product Hunk is gaining traction with sophisticated corporate clients, the company sees room for growth in the security market, and public sector bookings doubled year on year. Even with lower entry-level prices meant to bring in new clients, the average selling price stayed above $30,000. “FY:15 is all about driving increased customer adoption for Splunk,” writes White.

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About the Author

Michael Ide
Michael has a Bachelor's Degree in mathematics and physics from Boston University and Master's Degree in physics from University of California, San Diego. He has worked as an editor and writer for several magazines. Prior to his career in journalism, Michael Worked in the Peace Corps teaching math and science in South Africa.

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