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Salesforce.com’s (CRM) fourth quarter earnings were better than expected, but the earnings outlook for the current quarter was light. The company, however, expects to surpass the $2 billion revenue mark in the fiscal year ahead.

The company reported fourth quarter earnings of $10.9 million, or 8 cents a share, down from 16 cents a share a year ago. Non-GAAP earnings were 31 cents a share. Revenue for the fourth quarter was $457 million, up 29 percent from a year ago.

Wall Street was expecting fourth quarter earnings of 26 cents a share on revenue of $453 million.

For fiscal 2011, Salesforce reported earnings of $64.5 million, or 47 cents a share, on revenue of $1.66 billion.

As for the outlook, Salesforce was upbeat about fiscal 2012, but the earnings projection was light. The company said it would lose about a penny a share to 2 cents a share in the first quarter on a GAAP basis. Non-GAAP earnings will be 26 cents a share to 27 cents a share. Revenue for the first quarter will be $480 million to $482 million. The gap between non-GAAP and GAAP earnings are largely due to acquisition accounting.

Wall Street was expecting earnings of 31 cents a share on revenue of $471 million.

For 2012, Salesforce projected earnings of 8 cents a share to 11 cents a share on GAAP. Non-GAAP earnings would be $1.35 a share to $1.38 a share. Revenue for fiscal 2012 will be $2.03 billion to $2.05 billion. Wall Street was expecting earnings of $1.39 a share on revenue of $2.04 billion.

By the numbers:

  • Subscription and support revenue was $429 million, up 31 percent from a year ago.
  • Deferred revenue in the fourth quarter was $935 million, up 33 percent from a year ago.
  • Salesforce added 5,100 new customers in the fourth quarter.
  • Total customers were 92,300.
Source: Salesforce.com: Strong Fourth Quarter, $2B Revenue Mark in Sight