With Salesforce's latest earnings around the corner, investors are looking for signs that its record of steady growth will continue into the future. 

Based on FactSet estimates, analysts are expecting earnings of 47 cents per share on $3.95 billion in revenue for the quarter. In the prior quarter, Salesforce easily topped estimates on both the top and bottom lines, posting earnings of 93 cents per share on revenue of $3.74 billion -- but shares have been under pressure over the past few weeks on macro concerns as well as some skepticism surrounding recent M&A activity. Since the beginning of August, Salesforce's stock is down about 7% to to $145.54 as of Tuesday's close. 

Here are a few key themes to watch when Salesforce reports its latest earnings on Thursday, Aug. 22 after the market close.

1. Salesforce's M&A Streak 

Salesforce made a splash in June when it announced a $15.7 billion acquisition of Tableau, a leader in data visualization software. The deal closed in early August, and just days later, Salesforce announced a $1.35 billion acquisition of ClickSoftware, which makes workforce management software. Some investors are concerned that Salesforce's days of organic growth are over and that the software giant will need to regularly make costly acquisitions to keep up its long-standing streak of healthy revenue growth. With that in mind, investors will be on the lookout for more commentary on ClickSoftware, as well as further detail on what to expect in terms of revenue contribution in the years to come. Tableau brings its own base of roughly 86,000 customers to the table, and at the time the deal was announced, Salesforce estimated a contribution of between $350 million and $400 million to its overall top line next year from the deal. The deal closed two months earlier than the original Oct. 1 target date, however, so that estimate may indeed prove to be low. Further, if recent history is any guide, Tableau's revenue potential could top expectations in the years to come according to JMP Securities' Patrick Walravens, who pointed out that MuleSoft has handily cleared consensus estimates in every quarter since its May 2018 acquisition by Salesforce. "MuleSoft beat the consensus for each quarter by no less than $22M after being acquired," he pointed out. 


2. International Growth

As has been the case in recent quarters, Salesforce's global expansion is likely to be a top agenda item. In its June earnings, Salesforce reported 25% year-over-year revenue growth in the Americas, 27% in the APAC region and 32% in EMEA on a constant currency basis. Based on conversations with industry leaders, Wedbush analyst Steve Koenig wrote last week that there is cause for optimism on Salesforce's global growth plan. "Although Salesforce's sales automation in the U.S. enterprise market is fairly saturated, our checks see good opportunity for growth in international markets and verticals, with the company attacking the latter opportunity by building vertical-specific sales teams across Salesforce's various cloud units," he wrote. Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block called out the company's Trailhead program, which facilitates training in the Salesforce suite, as a key component of its international growth. On Thursday, investors will have a chance to hear more on what else is driving this critical aspect of Salesforce's outlook.

3. Macro Concerns

With worries about a coming recession in the air, the impact of macroeconomic issues on a company's performance are top of mind for many investors. Software firms are no different, and in a recent note citing survey results, Cowen analyst Derrick Wood reported an uptick in respondents who reported macro factors influencing buying behavior. Concerns about an economic slowdown have weighed on Salesforce shares this month -- and those concerns may keep the stock rangebound in the near future, Wood predicted. However, this fall also brings new catalysts: "We would view 3Q execution (includes Tableau) and Dreamforce (mid-Nov.) to be more impactful catalysts for the stock," he wrote. Nonetheless, investors will be listening closely for any hints of how Salesforce may navigate choppier economic waters.

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