Slack Technologies Inc.’s stock midday Thursday pared most of a double-digit-percentage decline, with investors punishing the company for a disappointing growth forecast, referred to by at least one research firm as “anemic” but likely conservative.
Bernstein analyst Mark Moerdler said the outlook for the company seemed to initially weigh on Slack’s shares, which were off by as much as 15% early in the session, but are now down just around 4% at $29.84 a share, in most recent action
Shares have dropped by about 5.2% in the past 30-day period, as the S&P 500
has risen 4.7%. Slack’s stock stands well below its $38.50 opening price notched when it held its direct listing in June.
Moerdler, however, isn’t panicked about Slack’s near-term growth trajectory, offering a modicum of optimism for bullish investors.
The workplace-messaging company saw its latest results hit by a service outage in June, which required Slack
to issue credits to customers and contributed to a $8.2 million negative revenue impact. Adding back that one-time impact to revenue, however, and comparing that value with Slack’s third-quarter outlook of $154 million to $156 million suggests that the company is forecasting hardly any sequential revenue growth, analysts said.
Moerdler says the company is being “highly conservative” in its projections.
“Management explained that they are being conservative in their guidance, especially given the one-time issue this quarter,” he wrote. The Bernstein analyst rates the stock a market perform, meaning its shares will likely trade in line with the broad-market S&P 500 index
The analysts lowered his target for the company to $29 from $31.
MKM Partners analyst Rohit Kulkarni referred to Slack’s service-outage issues as a forgivable “fumble” coming from a newly public company. Some of its older contracts contained large penalties for service disruptions, but Slack said it’s since worked on restructuring these arrangements so that it won’t incur similarly sized revenue impacts like this again.
The company “seemed comfortable saying that this was truly a one-time issue,” Kulkarni wrote. “We are willing to give a pass to a new public company as fundamentals and metrics remain solid with (surprising) baby steps towards profitability.”
He rates the stock a buy with a $38 target, down from $40 before the report.
William Blair analyst Bhavan Suri sees potential in Slack’s plans to roll out shared channels to all customers, a move that will let users in different organizations communicate with each other via the platform. “Not only will it increase the viral nature of Slack, but it can also drive conversion of free users to paid and result in stickier customers,” he wrote.
Suri also cheered strong customer traction in the latest quarter, following Slack’s disclosure that a Fortune 100 financial-services company now plans to use the service for all 50,000-plus employees. He has an outperform rating on Slack’s stock.