Salesforce Seeking Shareholder Approval for 4-for-1 Split

Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM), a of online customer relationship management software, plans a four-for-one stock split that would make each of its shares more “affordable and attractive” to more investors.

The San Francisco-based company will hold a meeting at its headquarters on March 20 for shareholders to approve a higher share count, Salesforce said in a filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The proposal would let Salesforce issue as many as 1.61 billion shares, from the 405 million it can currently issue.

A stock split will make Salesforce’s shares “more affordable and attractive to a broader group of potential investors, increase liquidity in the trading of our common stock and increase the attractiveness of our employee equity awards,” according to the filing.

Salesforce, whose software is used by companies to manage sales leads and quotas, rose 0.9 percent to $173.86 at the close in New York. The shares, which have gained 47 percent in the past year, trade at 89 times next year’s expected earnings.

Among a group of 16 peers in the software sector, only NetSuite Inc. (N) had a higher forward price-earnings multiple. The split won’t affect Salesforce’s market value, which stood at $24.7 billion.

Stock splits can make a company’s shares more accessible to a greater number of investors. Investment advisers currently hold 84 percent of Salesforce’s shares, while individual investors hold 6.7 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. By contrast, 27 percent of Oracle Corp. (ORCL)’s shares are held by individuals.

To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Ricadela in San Francisco at aricadela@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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