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Salesforce revenue grows, but shares dip on disappointing outlook

Salesforce CEO Marc BenioffSalesforce CEO Marc Benioff
Salesforce CEO Marc BenioffPhoto courtesy: Bloomberg

Salesforce reported a 29% gain in third-quarter revenue, but the company’s shares dipped after giving a disappointing outlook for the rest of the year and 2015. Here are a few key points from Wednesday’s earnings report.

What you need to know: The San Francisco-based cloud business software company beat Wall Street’s expectations by posting quarterly revenue of $1.38 billion, up from $1.08 billion last year. Salesforce also reported a loss of $38.9 million, or 6 cents per share, which represents an improvement from the $124.4 million it lost during the same quarter last year. The company said operating expenses increased by $167 million, to $1.07 billion, year-over-year

CEO Marc Benioff boasted in Salesforce’s earnings release that his company “continues to be the fastest growing top 10 software company.”

The big number: Benioff’s company continues to get the bulk of its revenue from its subscription-based software, with that unit posting a 28% sales bump, to $1.29 billion. Through the first three quarters of the fiscal year, that unit’s sales have grown by more than 33%. The company’s other main unit, its professional services division, saw its revenue increase 33% to $95 million.

Salesforce continues to benefit from an ever-expanding cloud services market that has let the company build up a strong momentum with consistent revenue growth. The company’s shares have gained almost 15% in value over the past six months, and Salesforce has high hopes for its new cloud analytics platform, Wave, which launched last month. Wave represents the company’s first foray into the massive analytics market.

What you might have missed: Despite beating analysts’ sales estimates of $1.37 billion, investors balked at Salesforce’s updated outlook for the current quarter and the next fiscal year. The company’s estimate of around $1.44 billion in fourth-quarter revenue came in just below analysts’ expectations. Salesforce also said it expects sales to increase by 20% to 21% next year, far short of the 32% analysts had predicted.

The disappointing outlook was enough to drive down Salesforce’s shares(CRM) by more than 4% in after-hours trading.