Business services firms' shares bleed as LinkedIn, Tableau crash

Fri Feb 5, 2016 6:03pm EST
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By Sarah McBride

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Dismal sales outlooks from marquee technology names sent shares in the enterprise sector crashing on Friday as investors questioned whether information-technology managers would keep spending on their products.

The uncertainty spread into the broader industry, sending the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index down 3.25 percent to 4363.144. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.29 percent to 16,204.97.

Business-analytics company Tableau Software (DATA.N: Quote) shed half its market value a day after cutting its full-year earnings guidance to between 22 cents and 35 cents a share, around half the 57 cents analysts had expected. Tableau shares closed down 49.4 percent at $41.33.

The company had cut its full-year 2016 revenue forecast to $830 million to $850 million from prior guidance of $845 million to $865 million. And Tableau's fourth-quarter revenue of $202.8 million only narrowly beat analyst expectations of $200.8 million.

"When you get a company that barely beats that has (previously) been beating by a longshot, people are going to be scratching their heads a little bit," said Brian White, analyst at Drexel Hamilton. "If that guy can’t show much upside, what does that mean for the rest of the sector?"

Tableau's results came in tandem with poor performance from business network LinkedIn, which shocked Wall Street with a revenue forecast that fell far short of expectations. Its shares plunged 44 percent on Friday, exacerbating the rout in business-services companies.

"They're a proxy for enterprise spend," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR, about LinkedIn.

Investors wondered whether enterprise customers will be willing to splurge on trends like big-data analytics and cloud computing. Those trends, hyped heavily over the years by analysts and the companies themselves, had previously driven big share-price gains.   Continued...

A woman takes pictures of the New York Stock Exchange, which has a Tableau Software banner on its facade, May 17, 2013.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid