6 Slack Analysts On Q1 Results, Billing Numbers, Microsoft Competition: 'An Unexpected Dichotomy'
If there were any beneficiaries of the coronavirus pandemic, Slack Technologies Inc (NYSE:WORK) seemed to be one. The company’s first-quarter results Thursday demonstrated 50% top-line growth, reflecting rapid adoption by companies shifting to remote operations.
Slack exceeded Street expectations with $206 million in billings, $202 million in revenue, $179 million in gross profit and a non-GAAP loss per share of 2 cents.
“We’d say the company mostly delivered,” Wells Fargo analyst Michael Turrin wrote, although noting that billings growth (38%) was below investor expectations and that the full-year guidance implies sharp second-half revenue deceleration.
What Slack Analysts Liked
Revenue came in 7% above consensus estimates, and Slack’s 90,000 net new customers for the period exceeded gains from the entire previous year.
“Slack added more free orgs in F1Q ‘21 vs. entire FY ‘20, hinting at a robust upsell/conversion pipeline,” MKM analyst Rohit Kulkarni wrote.
“Long-term obligations, a proxy for Slack’s FY ’22 and beyond growth, accelerated materially, implying sticky contracts with large enterprise customers.”
Mizuho analysts were nonetheless underwhelmed by Slack’s 12,000 net paid additions, having forecasted 14,000.
“In our view they are much less impressive than they appear after factoring in a very strong start to the quarter (the co. had previously disclosed 9,000 net adds through Mar. 26),” Gregg Moskowitz wrote.
Where Slack Analysts Wanted More
Billings seemed to be a point of common focus. The metric generally left analysts wanting.
“We don’t think the quarterly billings number is telling the entire story here, as FQ1 billings saw $17 million of Covid/renewal-related impacts, while RPO [remaining performance obligations] was up an impressive 97% year over year (16% quarter over quarter),” wrote Wells Fargo's Turrin.
Morgan Stanley attributed Slack’s miss on investor billings expectations to a modest net dollar retention rate, which stabilized after eight consecutive quarters of sequential decline.
“Q1 results showed an unexpected dichotomy – while the Covid-19 crisis pushed a lot of new customers to the Slack platform (about 90,000 in total, including Free and Paid, more than Slack accrued in all of FY20), there was very little change in the propensity of existing customers to use Slack more broadly within their organizations as the net dollar retention rate was just flat on a QoQ basis at 132%,” wrote analyst Keith Weiss.
Why The Market Reacted Poorly To Slack's Q1
Kulkarni attributed Slack’s after-hours sell-off to previously overinflated buy-side expectations and the withdrawal of FY21 billings guidance. The guidance that management did provide inspired caution, he said.
Morgan Stanley's Weiss said the revenue guidance is conservative, "reflecting a challenging environment in 2H21 embedding weaker renewal rates and lower sales productivity."
What’s On The Horizon For Slack
Cantor Fitzgerald expects Slack’s strong pipeline and diversified customer base to work in its favor.
“We believe the company and its platform have a number of unique, positive attributes, including the ability to drive customer productivity and efficiency, applicability across all industries and business sizes, and a growing ecosystem to facilitate seamless integration,” analyst Drew Kootman wrote.
“We expect these attributes to lead to increased market penetration and margin expansion and believe these characteristics will allow the company to expand its multiple.”
Other analysts flagged threats in the competitive environment. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Teams, in particular, may limit Slack’s progress.
“In our view, MSFT's competing Teams service significantly reduces WORK’s pricing power and limits the enterprise penetration opportunity,” wrote Mizuho's Moskowitz. “Further, we reiterate that MSFT considers Teams to be highly strategic, which means it is highly likely that MSFT will continue to invest substantially here for the foreseeable future.”
“We believe the company will have significant difficulty further penetrating the core enterprise market and MSFT installed base given the significant competitive offering from Microsoft's TEAMS product that could slow growth going forward quicker than the Street is anticipating, despite the COVID driven tailwinds,” wrote analyst Daniel Ives.
The Slack Ratings
Slack’s report generally seemed to inspire optimism.
“Like other cloud-based communications subsectors in software, we think this category is seeing a boost in terms of market awareness and willingness to spend, which bodes well both today and longer-term given the far-reaching nature of the underlying opportunity,” wrote Wells Fargo's Turrin.
- Cantor Fitzgerald maintained an Overweight rating and raised its target from $30 to $38;
- Mizuho maintained a Neutral rating and $29 target;
- MKM Partners maintained a Buy rating and raised its target from $35 to $37;
- Morgan Stanley maintained an Equal-weight rating and $29 target;
- Wedbush maintained an Underperform rating and raised its target from $14 to $20; and
- Wells Fargo maintained an Overweight rating and cut its target from $41 to $40.
“While Slack has done a commendable job getting to this juncture we believe the next step of growth will be more of an uphill battle as the Street could be overestimating growth in FY21 and beyond baked into shares at current levels, which speaks to our more negative thesis on this name,” Ives wrote.
WORK Price Action
Slack shares were down 13.55% at $32.80 at the time of publication Friday.
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