times projected earnings versus 36 times for the software sector, gave its first forecast for its 2014 fiscal year on Tuesday, projecting revenue between $3.8 billion and $3.85 billion, in line with analysts' average estimate of $3.83 billion.
The company will likely be hotly pursued by larger enterprise computing giants like Oracle and SAP AG , which have scooped up smaller companies and rolled out new features to compete with Salesforce.
At an event in Madrid earlier this month, SAP unveiled a new customer relationship management offering dubbed 360 Customer, which was viewed as the German software giant's latest effort to undercut Salesforce's core business.
This year, Oracle acquired several social marketing companies to compete with Salesforce's new-look product lineup.
Benioff acknowledged to analysts Tuesday that the three companies, which all scrap over business clients, occasionally clash in customer flare-ups but downplayed the threat posed by his two larger rivals.
I think Salesforce is creating some separation between itself and its competitors, said Hernandez from MKM Partners. They just seem one, two, three steps ahead of Oracle, SAP and Microsoft.
For the third quarter, ending Oct. 31, Salesforce reported a per-share loss of $1.55 on a non-adjusted basis.
After excluding a one-time tax charge and stock-based compensation costs, the company reported earnings of 33 cents a share, a penny above analyst projections of 32 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
It reported revenue of $788 million for the quarter; analysts, on average, predicted revenue of $776.5 million.
By the end of the quarter, unbilled deferred revenue, a leading indicator of sales, had risen to roughly $3 billion, up slightly from $2.8 billion at the end of July, the company said.