Slack shares down more than 15% as revenue growth remains steady despite pandemic


Stewart Butterfield speaks on November 08, 2019 in San Francisco, California.

Phillip Faraone | Getty Images

Slack shares fell as much as 15% in extended trading on Thursday after the company reported fiscal first-quarter results.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Earnings: Loss of 2 cents per share, adjusted
  • Revenue: $201.7 million

Analysts polled by Refinitiv had expected an adjusted loss of 6 cents per share on $188.1 million in revenue. Comparing analysts’ estimates with results is not necessarily straightforward given the unpredictable effects of the pandemic during the quarter.

As activity in the Slack team communication software increased with offices and schools closing to reduce the spread of coronavirus, the company’s revenue grew 50% in the quarter, which ended on April 30, according to a statement. Revenue growth was 49% in the prior quarter. That’s barely a move from growth of 49% in the previous quarter, suggesting the pandemic is not spurring as much growth at Slack as it is at Zoom, another company that enables remote work. On Tuesday Zoom reported 169% revenue growth, exceeding what analysts had expected, and nearly doubled its revenue guidance.

Slack did not disclose a new daily active user count on Thursday. However, in March CEO Stewart Butterfield posted a series of tweets showing how much Slack usage was picking up. He said that the company’s app had 12.5 million simultaneously connected users on March 25, up from 10 million on March 10.

The company said it added a record 12,000 paid customers in the quarter. In the two prior quarters it added about 5,000 new customers. Slack’s top competitor, Microsoft’s Teams service, has also expanded in recent months

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Cowen analysts led by Derrick Wood initiated coverage of Slack with the equivalent of a buy rating on Tuesday. “With the emergence of remote work, which seems will have some level of permanency, we think this catalyzes Slack’s value prop from ‘nice to have’ more toward ‘must have,'” the analysts wrote in a note distributed to clients. The threat of Microsoft is overblown because companies will gravitate toward stronger products as online collaboration becomes more important, they wrote.

For the fiscal second quarter, Slack is forecasting an adjusted loss of 4 cents to 3 cents per share and $206 million to 209 million in revenue. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv had been expecting 6 cents in adjusted loss per share on $199.8 million in revenue for that period.

For the full 2021 fiscal year Slack is calling for a loss of 19 cents to 17 cents cents per share on an adjusted basis and $855 million to $870 million in revenue. The consensus among analysts surveyed by Refinitiv was an adjusted loss of 20 cents per share and $860.3 million in revenue. 

The company withdrew its guidance for calculated billings, or revenue plus the change in deferred revenue, for the full fiscal year.

Excluding the after-hours trading, Slack shares are up about 70% since the beginning of the year.

Executives will discuss the results with analysts on a conference call scheduled for 5 p.m. Eastern time.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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