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CRM), on the other hand, has had a slightly less blockbuster year. The $27 billion customer relationship management software maker is only up around 7.3% since the calendar flipped over to January, strong performance for a normal year, but far less strong performance for a year when the S&P 500 is up close to 19%.
But investors aren't just betting on underperformance from CRM. By and large, they're betting on a drop. Currently, the firm's short interest ratio weighs in at 13.04.
At its most simple, Salesforce makes software applications that help its 100,000 customers interact with their own customer lists, handling everything from sending newsletter to tracking sales. Because the firm's applications have a direct and measurable correlation with sales, switching costs are higher than most business apps. After all, customers are a lot less likely to stop paying for software when they can see exactly how much it's contributed to their top line.
Because CRM sells its software as a service hosted in "the cloud" rather than an application hosted on users' computers, it boasts an attractive subscription-based model. That model provides recurring revenues with limited effort in periods subsequent to picking up new customers -- and because integration with the Salesforce.com platform is deep, customers can't simply jump ship without investing heavily in new systems.
Even though CRM has prioritized reinvestment over profitability in the last few years, it generates enough cash to turn the ship around quickly if the capital markets so dictate.