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To start a company you have to be a little bit odd. Because it's scary and difficult. Even if you already have a boatload of money, as did Marc Benioff when he began the 1-800-NO-SOFTWARE journey (Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) original strapline - back when people made phone calls!), you have much at stake. Reputation with peers, superiors, inferiors, family, friends, your pet dogs. Opportunity cost - should you just keep taking the corporate dollar? And the other kind of opportunity cost that comes with never being able to dial it in, on account of, well, it's your business, so who exactly are you kidding with your WFH game?
To still be running the company you founded, a couple decades later, when you could have declared success, cashed up already and then bought the little of Hawai'i you didn't already own - you have to be stranger still. Why schlepp to work every day when you don't need the money, your standing as the Hairy Cloudfather is cemented in Valley history, and frankly the company you run is now likely to be the next roadkill for the pesky kids down the road who keep using the word "legacy" around you, much to your chagrin.
The answer is, the need to control, and to win, and to keep winning, and to keep controlling the win. In many aspects of life this is undesirable. But in business? It's the most wonderful aspect a CEO can bring to the party. All that stuff about teamwork and blah? That's just HR acting on behalf of the controlling CEO. They mean, you down there, you grunts, you work as a team. (Because it dilutes the influence of any of you that might look like a challenger.) Me? Despicable me? There's no Me in Team! Get back to work!
Someone at Salesforce keeps telling Benioff that he should stand aside, step back, do less, surf more. And he keeps pretending to do it. Twice now he has hired a "co-CEO" (like that's even a thing!) and then thrown them under the tram as it passes by the Eye of Sauron down there on Mission. Probably for yucks and irony these guys get tossed out the window from the Ohana Floor. Yes, that's a thing.
We'll get to the numbers in a moment. They were fine. But look - this is the most important thing in the Salesforce print after the bell today:
Taylor just found out he wanted to spend more time away from his family building a new business. Leaving the Big Guy back in the Big Chair. Actually, both Big Chairs, the CEO's and the Chairman's. Giving it the back-in-the-day governance structure, for all the progressive warrior image projected into the mean streets.
This we see as bullish. Salesforce is a subscription business which means it offers long-run visibility into the future, more so than companies with a purely contingent revenue model at least - and if you have been managing it for decades you can see way beyond the books and into the future based on all kinds of tangible and intangible inputs. If you thought this thing was headed for the abyss, you would likely keep the co-CEO thing in place thus to be able to share the blame and/or dump all the blame on The Other Guy, viz. Sheryl Sandberg's fate at Meta Platforms (META). Or even just bail now and then you can blame all of it on the newcomers. That Benioff has simply decided to get his ball back and play on as the sole forward? That's bullish in our view.
Let's look at the valuation.
In fundamental analysis, this valuation is known as "meh." Not overly expensive for the growth and margins, but not overly cheap either. Meh.
Finally the stock chart. You can open a full page version, here.
We think the stock can be accumulated at these levels and identify an upper and lower bound for such slow-burn building a position. Our chart shows the stock rising up out of a low bottom. This can form a new larger-degree Wave 3 which can read the Wave 1 high and more. Price target? $312 - the previous Wave 1 high - will do for now. We'll keep you posted.
Cestrian Capital Research, Inc - 30 November 2022.
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Cestrian Capital Research, Inc
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Disclosure: I/we have a beneficial long position in the shares of CRM, META either through stock ownership, options, or other derivatives. Business relationship disclosure: See disclaimer text at the top of this article.
Additional disclosure: Cestrian Capital Research, Inc staff personal accounts hold long positions in, inter alia, CRM and META.