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June 7, 2019, 6:58 a.m. EDT

Zoom Video focuses on huge market in effort to justify hefty valuation

Slowing revenue growth doesn’t justify its sky-high P/E ratio

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By Therese Poletti, MarketWatch


Bloomberg News/Landov
Zoom Video founder and CEO Eric Yuan, center, rings the opening bell during the company's initial public offering on April 18.

Zoom Video Inc. delivered strong earnings and guidance in its first results as a public company Thursday, and talked about the huge market opportunity ahead — but the numbers still don’t justify its hefty valuation.

Even so, Zoom’s shares /zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite ZM -0.98%   surged in after-hours trading, jumping nearly 11% after the company reported earnings that surpassed Wall Street’s expectations. Zoom investors were clearly happy that the company did not disappoint, after a stunning IPO in April, when it far outperformed the debut of better-known online scrapbooking company Pinterest, with its shares exploding more than 70% in their stock-market debut.

The company’s guidance for the second quarter also surpassed expectations, with one analyst on the earnings conference call asking if the better-than-expected revenue forecast was due to recent traction from Zoom Phone, a cloud-based phone system for companies that it launched in January. Eric Yuan, Zoom’s enthusiastic chairman, CEO and co-founder, said the Zoom Phone will be more of a contributor in the future, and he also said there will be costs ahead for hiring more salespeople.

Zoom’s foray into phone calls as one of its future growth opportunities spurred a question about why the phone is as good a market as internet-based videoconferences. JMP Securities analyst Patrick Walravens put it succinctly: “Is there as much of an opportunity around Zoom Phone as there was around Zoom meetings? I’m not sure there is same level of pain around the phone.” Yuan answered that many customers are still using complex, old-fashioned PBX phone systems, and could potentially upgrade.

The company also broadcast the earnings call using its Zoom Video product, similar to Microsoft’s /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT -0.51%   Skype, which showed each analyst asking their question, with very good audio quality. One analyst who didn’t get his camera to work was offered a new camera by Yuan, and another got his attention with a big Golden Gate Bridge background. Executives joked (sort of) that they won’t be able to make faces at the questions analysts asked them when the conduct their calls over video.

Zoom’s product strategy is similar to companies like Atlassian Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207177221/composite TEAM -1.32% , Slack, Dropbox Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205896836/composite DBX 0.00% and others that get their initial customers in a small part of a company with a free product, and as the product catches on, the software gains more adoption until the customer has so many users that they need an enterprise-level account.

Zoom executives also continued to tout the total addressable market data that excited so many investors during the company’s roadshow. “So when you look at the knowledge workers today worldwide, more than 1 billion knowledge workers, but today if you look at the video usage, it is still very small,” Yuan said. “I think, just the focus on today’s TAM [total addressable market], $43 billion market, as long as we do not lose our focus, I think it will keep us very busy in the next several years.”

Some analysts, though, have had a hard time justifying the company’s valuation. Its share price of around $79.43 is currently trading at around 32 times estimates for calendar 2020 revenue, compared to its peers trading at around 14.2 times 2020 revenue estimates. According to FactSet, eight analysts rate it a hold, three say it’s a buy and one has a sell rating.

Zoom is an impressive company, with a good product, a strong and engaged management team, and — especially unusual in this recent IPO batch — profits. It also had 103% revenue growth in the first quarter. But the company’s triple-digit revenue growth appears to be starting to slow from its peak numbers — 149% and 118% in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019, respectively — as is wont to happen with young companies. Investors might want to look at Zoom Video as fully valued right now.

/zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 67.03
-0.66 -0.98%
Volume: 3.50M
Oct. 17, 2019 4:00p
P/E Ratio
1,651
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$18.52 billion
Rev. per Employee
N/A
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/zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 139.69
-0.72 -0.51%
Volume: 21.21M
Oct. 17, 2019 4:00p
P/E Ratio
27.55
Dividend Yield
1.46%
Market Cap
$1072.09 billion
Rev. per Employee
$902,473
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/207177221/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 122.64
-1.64 -1.32%
Volume: 2.83M
Oct. 17, 2019 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$30.19 billion
Rev. per Employee
$391,879
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205896836/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 18.94
0.00 0.00%
Volume: 1.74M
Oct. 17, 2019 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$7.83 billion
Rev. per Employee
$599,096
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Therese Poletti is a senior columnist for MarketWatch in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter @tpoletti.

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