Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

Marc Benioff's Incredible Story

|Includes:, Inc. (CRM)

Note to readers: The BS Index has been updated and reported in this post:

Commenters have pointed out that on quarterly conference calls, Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) CEO Marc Benioff often uses words like "incredible" and "exciting". To explore this phenomenon I have developed a novel index called the "Benioff Superlatives Index" or simply "BS Index."


Here is how the BS Index was constructed:

1. All of Mr. Benioff's prepared remarks and comments during Q&A were compiled from the last thirteen earnings call transcripts (Q1 2011 through Q1 2014 ending 4/30/13). Transcripts were downloaded from

2. Basic Unix tools were used to count the occurrences of the following words used by Mr. Benioff, which I'll collectively refer to as the "Superlatives": Awesome, Amazing, Best, Big, Exciting, Fantastic, Great, Huge, Incredible, Large and Tremendous.

3. The total number of words spoken by Mr. Benioff in each call were counted.

4. The index for each call was calculated as follows: number of superlatives in call divided by number of words in call times 1,000 for ease of reading and comparison (equivalent to percentage times 10).


VoilĂ : here is our Benioff Superlatives Index:

Earnings call

# Superlatives used by CEO

2011-Q1 75 10.6
2011-Q2 60 10.9
2011-Q3 59 11.4
2011-Q4 61 11.1
2012-Q1 39 6.5
2012-Q2 76 11.9
2012-Q3 68 11.1
2012-Q4 91 14.0
2013-Q1 70 11.7
2013-Q2 36 8
2013-Q3 62 11.9
2013-Q4 81 15.1
2014-Q1 71 11.5

A plot of the BS Index reveals an uptrend:

As followers of this stock will know, the stock price has also been rising during this period:

CRM stock price

Meanwhile, GAAP EPS is showing a downtrend:


Let's put it all together: the more inflated Mr. Benioff's language is, the higher the stock price goes -- and the lower the GAAP earnings go. Amazing!

Focus on "exciting" and "incredible"

I examined Mr. Benioff's use of the words "exciting" and "incredible" over the last 13 conference calls. This metric fluctuates, but it is helpful to look at the 4-quarter trailing average (note: this is a trailing average of occurrences per call, not the BS Index):

You can see that the trend is less "exciting" than in the past -- perhaps because those pesky GAAP earnings are stuck below zero -- but increasingly "incredible."

How incredible can it get?

Disclosure: I am short CRM.