Why Salesforce.com Stock Rose 15% in the First Half of 2020

What happened

Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) finished the first six months of the year up 15%, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, as the cloud software giant delivered solid results in the face of the global pandemic and rode a broader recovery wave in SaaS (software-as-a-service) stocks.

The chart below shows the stock’s trajectory over the first half of the year.

^SPX data by YCharts

So what

Salesforce started out the year on a strong note as the company got a series of bullish analyst estimates projecting a strong year for the customer relationship management specialist.

Image source: Getty Images.

A strong fourth-quarter earnings report wasn’t enough to stop the coronavirus-driven sell-off at the end of February, but the company still beat estimates as revenue jumped 35% to $4.85 billion, ahead of expectations of $4.75 billion. Adjusted earnings per share slipped from $0.70 to $0.66 due in part to share dilution but still beat the consensus of $0.55.

As the stock tumbled in March alongside the market crash, CEO Marc Benioff pledged not to lay off any employees for the next 90 days. Shares recovered over April and May as hopes for an economic recovery ramped up, but Salesforce’s gains were uneven as the stock stumbled after an industry conference, and on some analysts’ belief that software focused on revenue generation was more at risk than applications like cybersecurity.

The stock pulled back after its second-quarter earnings report at the end of May. Weak guidance overshadowed solid first-quarter numbers, with the company calling for full-year revenue growth of 17%, following 30% growth in the first quarter as it laps last year’s Tableau acquisition. To close the first half of the year, the stock gained at the end of June as a pair of analysts raised their price targets on the stock and a report said Salesforce would launch its own Slack competitor.

Now what

Salesforce has been a steady winner throughout its history; the company continues to put up steady growth as the market for cloud software continues to expand. The sector has come into vogue during the market rebound, meaning Salesforce could see more gains from here if it can show pre-pandemic levels of growth returning. The market seems to expect the COVID-19 pandemic to accelerate the shift to remote technologies and cloud computing, so at least some of Salesforce’s products should be able to benefit from the disruption.

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Jeremy Bowman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Salesforce.com and Slack Technologies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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