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Salesforce Projects First-Quarter Revenue That May Top Estimates

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Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Salesforce.com Inc., the biggest maker of customer-management software, forecast fiscal first-quarter sales that may top analysts’ estimates as demand for its customer-service programs helps bring in large contracts.

Revenue in the quarter ending in April will rise to about $1.21 billion, the San Francisco-based company said yesterday in a statement. That topped the average analyst projection for $1.19 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit before certain costs will be 9 cents to 10 cents a share, compared with a 10-cent average estimate. The company also gave an annual sales forecast that beat predictions.

Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff has been spending on acquisitions in the field of marketing software. At the same time, the company’s Service Cloud customer-service programs are driving sales growth, and partners are noting an increase in large deals, wrote Keith Weiss, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, in a research note ahead of the earnings report.

For the fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 31, the company’s loss widened to $116.6 million, or 19 cents a share, from a loss of $20.8 million, or 4 cents, in the year-earlier quarter. Excluding some costs, profit was 7 cents a share, compared with the 6-cent average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 37 percent to $1.15 billion.

Salesforce shares climbed 3.9 percent to $66.22 at yesterday’s close in New York before the report. The stock has risen 59 percent in the past year, compared with a 22 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Revenue for the fiscal year that just began will be $5.25 billion to $5.3 billion, Salesforce said yesterday. Analysts on average were projecting $5.21 billion in sales. The company also said Chief Financial Officer Graham Smith will retire in March 2015 after holding the job since 2008.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at dbass2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at ptam13@bloomberg.net

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