March 4, 2019 / 9:31 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Salesforce forecasts current-quarter profit below estimates

(Adds shares; Compares with estimates)

March 4 (Reuters) - Salesforce.com Inc forecast current-quarter profit below analysts’ estimates on Monday, as the cloud software maker invests heavily to boost sales and fend off rising competition, sending its shares down 4 percent.

The company forecast first-quarter profit between 60 cents and 61 cents per share and revenue between $3.67 billion and $3.68 billion. Analysts on average were expecting a profit of 63 cents per share on revenue of $3.70 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Although the San Francisco-based company has been reaping the benefits of a trend where companies are increasingly turning to cloud-based services, it faces stiff competition from Microsoft’s Dynamics 365.

Salesforce has been boosting its spend on research and development as well as marketing and sales. The company’s total operating expenses jumped 32 percent to $2.52 billion in the fourth quarter.

Revenue from the company’s flagship product, Sales Cloud, rose 11.1 percent to $1.05 billion.

Salesforce’s net income rose to $362 million, or 46 cents per share, in the quarter ended Jan. 31., from $206 million, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 70 cents per share, while analysts on average had expected 55 cents.

Total revenue rose 26 percent to $3.60 billion, beating analysts’ average estimate of $3.56 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. (Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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