Salesforce shares rise on better-than-expected third-quarter results

Key Points
  • Salesforce reported earnings and revenue on Tuesday that beat analysts' estimates.
  • The company's stock price has been hammered of late along with the broader market, but Salesforce shares are still up 25 percent this year.
  • Salesforce is getting additional growth from the $6.5 billion acquisition of MuleSoft, which closed in May.
Marc Benioff, chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco on Sept. 25, 2018.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Salesforce shares rose in extended trading on Tuesday after the cloud software company reported fiscal third-quarter results that beat analysts' estimates. 

Here are the key numbers:

  • Earnings: 61 cents per share, excluding certain items, vs. 50 cents per share as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.
  • Revenue: $3.39 billion, vs. $3.37 billion as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.

Revenue in the period jumped 26 percent from a year earlier, driven by expansion in the Sales Cloud and Service Cloud segments, the company said in a statement.

The stock climbed 7.4 percent to $137 after the report. The shares are up 25 percent this year as of Tuesday's close.

Even after blowing past $10 billion in annual revenue, Salesforce continues to grow well above 20 percent a year by providing a broader suite of products to sales, marketing and services departments at companies that are moving from traditional software to the cloud.

"I don't think the company's ever been stronger or been in a better position," co-CEO Marc Benioff told CNBC's Jim Cramer in an interview after earnings on "Mad Money." "And the reason why is every company that we're dealing with is going through a huge digital transformation and every digital transformation begins and ends with the customer."

Salesforce is also investing in artificial intelligence and analytics tools to help customers make better use of their data. That led to a 22 percent increase in research and development costs in the quarter to $481 million, while sales and marketing costs rose 36 percent to $1.59 billion.

For the fourth quarter, Salesforce said it expects revenue of $3.55 billion to $3.56 billion, beating the $3.52 billion average analyst estimate, according to Refinitiv. However, the earnings forecast of 54 cents to 55 cents a share, excluding certain items, trailed the average estimate of 57 cents.

Salesforce, which is now led by Benioff and co-CEO Keith Block, is getting added growth from the $6.5 billion acquisition of MuleSoft, the company's biggest deal ever. The purchase, which closed in May, adds technology that helps link together disparate applications, presenting a new growth market for Salesforce.

"We believe that MULE is significantly outperforming expectations in both the quarter and the year and is already ahead of annual targets with another full quarter left to go," Alex Zukin, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, wrote in a report last week. Zukin has an "overweight" rating and a $160 price target on the stock.

WATCH: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on CNBC's "Mad Money"

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