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Wednesday, July 4, 2001
VANCOUVER -- News that Pivotal Corp. will post a loss in its fourth
quarter sent the stock tumbling on Canadian and U.S. markets yesterday.
Pivotal shares slid almost 14 per cent to close at $22.40 on the Toronto
Stock Exchange, down from a close of $29 on June 29.
Pivotal shares also slumped on the Nasdaq Stock Market, where the stock
closed at $13.99 (U.S.), down $4.21 from July 2.
Vancouver-based Pivotal, which makes customer relationship management
(CRM) software, announced Monday that it expects a fourth-quarter loss of
between 28 and 32 cents a share.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had been expecting a
profit of 4 cents a share for the quarter.
Pivotal president and chief executive officer Norm Francis said customers
are still buying CRM products but are often postponing purchases or
implementing new technology in small, incremental stages.
Pivotal's software helps companies collect information about customers and
use that information to tailor offerings to individual customers.
Pivotal gets over half of its revenue from software licences -- the remainder
comes from service and maintenance contracts -- so any slowdown in
software sales has a quick impact on its bottom line.
"Our business model means that any move in licence revenue has a
dramatic impact [on profits]," Mr. Francis said, adding that Pivotal's deals
got smaller as the quarter wound down. "Customers in every industry are
worried about their own businesses."
Analysts said Pivotal is also feeling the pinch of increased competition and
discounting in the CRM market.
In a report yesterday, Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Christopher Shilakes said
Pivotal remains one of the leading players in the clutch of companies
pitching CRM systems to mid-sized companies.
But "we are concerned about the pressures from the current economic
environment and a more focused set of competitors, especially Siebel
[Systems Inc.], leading to increasing discounting and reduced deal sizes
that has even reached Pivotal's mid-market stronghold," Mr. Shilakes said.
In his report, Mr. Shilakes, who is based in San Francisco, cut his
recommendation on Pivotal from "long-term accumulate" to "neutral."
Mr. Francis said yesterday that Pivotal has not been discounting its
products, but that price cuts made by some of its competitors affected
results in the most recent quarter.
"In a few situations, we did see some 11th-hour discounting and that did
cause customers to pause and take longer with their decisions."
Mr. Francis said Pivotal has not been losing ground to competitors such as
San Mateo, Calif.-based Siebel Systems, which counts many large
multinationals among its customers.
Pivotal plans to announce its fourth-quarter results on July 26.
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