Salesforce.com forecast fiscal fourth-quarter profit that may miss analysts' estimates on higher compensation costs as the biggest maker of customer- management software expands into new markets.
Revenue for the period ending in January will be $1.12 billion to $1.13 billion, and profit excluding some items will be 5 cents to 6 cents a share, the company said in a statement Monday. That compared with analysts' average projections for profit of 7 cents on sales of $1.12 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff, who is hosting the company's Dreamforce customer conference in San Francisco this week, has spent more than $3 billion to acquire marketing- software companies, including ExactTarget for $2.42 billion in July. The marketing push isn't yet paying off amid competition from Adobe Systems (ADBE) and others, according to Peter Goldmacher, an analyst at Cowen & Co.
"They have a pretty dismal track record on M&A," said Goldmacher, who has the equivalent of a sell rating on the stock.
Shares of San Francisco-based Salesforce fell in extended trading after declining 3.1 percent to $55.51 at the close in New York. The stock has climbed 32 percent this year, compared with a 19 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 Information Technology Index.
Benioff is competing with Microsoft, Oracle (ORCL) and SAP in the $20.7 billion market for technology that lets companies manage their customers, while adding newer tools for marketing and client support.
For the fiscal third quarter, Salesforce reported sales of $1.08 billion, up 36 percent from a year earlier, compared with analysts' average estimate for $1.05 billion. Profit excluding some items was 9 cents a share, matching the 9-cent projection.
Including stock-based compensation costs, amortization and interest expenses, the company's net loss narrowed to $124.4 million, compared with the average prediction for a loss of $111.5 million.
Salesforce on Monday introduced an overhauled version of its mobile software, seeking to ensure clients and partners will be able to use more features of the company's sales, marketing and customer-service programs.
Called Salesforce1, the new tool will make it easier for businesses to customize Salesforce.com's services for smartphones and tablets, the company said in a statement Monday. Application developers will also get new tools to tap into the platform.