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Salesforce confirms $27.7 billion deal to buy Slack, while results top Street estimates



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Salesforce.com Inc. shares declined in the extended session Tuesday after the cloud-based customer-relationship management company confirmed it would acquire Slack Technologies Inc. in a deal worth $27.7 billion and topped Wall Street estimates for the quarter.

Salesforce shares sank more than 4% after hours, following a 1.8% decline in the regular session to close at $241.35.

The company confirmed it would buy Slack with shareholders receiving $26.79 in cash and 0.0776 shares of Salesforce common stock for each Slack share, for a combined $45.86 a share. Slack shares fluctuated between slight gains and losses after hours, following a 2.2% rise in the regular session to close at $43.84. Slack’s stock is up 95% for the year, and up 44% since last Tuesday, when reports of the deal surfaced.

On the earnings conference call, the question arose: If Salesforce and Slack already had a close relationship, why buy the company for nearly $28 billion rather than partner up?

“On the whole, our transactions have been extremely successful,” said Marc Benioff, Salesforce chairman and chief executive, on the call.

Prior to the Slack announcement, Tableau Software was Salesforce’s largest acquisition to date at $15.7 billion, closing in August 2019. That followed up its $6.5 billion acquisition of Mulesoft back in 2018.

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“When you look at what we’ve learned, our ability to integrate companies, to make one plus one equal three, we look at this and we say ‘Wow this is a game changer and we know-how to pull it off,’ and we have a lot of our former executives, for example, at Slack already, so we know a lot of those players,” Benioff said.

Salesforce’s acquisition of the business-communications company, which went public in June 2019, is seen as a “major shot across the bow” at Microsoft Corp. which has its competing Teams direct messaging service and already competes with Salesforce with its Dynamics 365 CRM service.

Salesforce said it would fund the cash portion of the deal with a combination of new debt and cash on hand, noting it received a commitment from Citigroup, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan Chase for a 364-day $10 billion bridge loan. Salesforce said it expects the acquisition to close in its fiscal second quarter, which ends in July 2021.

Salesforce also reported third-quarter net income of $1.08 billion, or $1.15 a share, versus a loss of $109 million, or 12 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings were $1.74 a share, compared with 75 cents a share in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $5.42 billion from $4.51 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet estimated earnings of 75 cents a share on revenue of $5.23 billion, based on Salesforce’s forecast of 73 cents to 74 cents a share on revenue of $5.24 billion to $5.25 billion back in August.

Salesforce expects adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of 73 cents to 74 cents a share on revenue of $5.67 billion to $5.68 billion, while analysts had forecast 86 cents a share on revenue of $5.51 billion. For fiscal 2022, Salesforce expects revenue of $5.68 billion to $5.72 billion for the first quarter, and $25.45 billion to $25.55 billion for the year. Analysts expect revenue of $5.66 billion for the first quarter and $24.47 billion for the year.

Back in August, Salesforce’s second-quarter earnings and outlook triggered its biggest one-day stock gain ever with a 26% rally as quarterly revenue hurdled the $5 billion mark for the first time.

Additionally, Salesforce announced Tuesday that Chief Financial Officer Mark Hawkins will retire on Feb. 1, with Amy Weaver, the company’s current chief legal officer, succeeding Hawkins.

At Tuesday’s close, Salesforce’s stock was up 48% for the year, while the First Trust Cloud Computing ETF is up 48%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 4.5%, the S&P 500 index is up 13%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index is up 38%.

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