There continues to be a "growth at any cost" mentality. In that process, it became clear Salesforce.com ( CRM) had emerged as a Wall Street favorite. While Salesforce's growth has been impressive, profitability has been a huge disappointment, at least from my vantage point. But that minor detail has never mattered to the rest of the market. From my view, however, Salesforce.com has always been an expensive stock. This fact, the company has always known. This is why it has gone to great lengths to improve its bottom line. But it doesn't seem to work. Even so, Salesforce continues to get a pass. I don't suspect this is going to change anytime soon. So it doesn't make sense to continue fighting a battle that I can't win.
Don't mistake this for my conceding a victory, though. I'm merely acknowledging that Wall Street is stubborn and has decided that as long as Salesforce continues to grow market share as it has, the stock will grow commensurately -- regardless of perceived lack of leverage. So, in my mind, expensive or not, there's no point continuing to raise the specter of suspicion or the argument known as "valuation." Given the company's impressive second-quarter results, bears such as I, have no recourse by to hibernate, for now. As much as I've said about Oracle ( ORCL) and IBM ( IBM) gaining ground in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) market, with second-quarter revenue surging 31% Salesforce essentially decided that it was time to "put the pedal to metal" and run a full lap around the competition. As impressive as a 31% growth performance might suggest, consider that on a sequential basis it shows a 6% acceleration, which is remarkable when you consider that this now makes the 25% growth performance in the first quarter look like peanuts. Not only is Salesforce still putting up gaudy subscription numbers, but "billings" were up a stunning 38%. Billings, also known as deferred revenue, is the metric that indicates the strength of future sales.