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Salesforce.com Sees Surge in Bullish Bets With Earnings on Deck

Gregory Calderone

(Bloomberg) -- Salesforce.com options are showing a decidedly bullish tilt ahead of its second-quarter earnings report, signaling that investors are betting the business software maker’s results will be better received than those of European counterpart SAP SE last month.

There are more than twice as many calls than puts among contracts set to expire Friday in the wake of this afternoon’s release, and options prices imply a 6% earnings-day price move. That’s almost double the 3.1% average of the past eight reports, when rallies outpaced declines five-to-three. The stock has gained 8% this year, compared with a 31% rally in the the S&P 500 Software Index.

It’s probably going to be a “noisy” earnings report, given Salesforce.com’s recent acquisition of Tableau Software Inc., according to SunTrust Robison Humphrey analyst Terry Tillman. He said the acquisition closed about two months sooner than targeted and he would expect stability and modest upside for the second-quarter with more catalysts ahead.

San Franciso-based Salesforce.com has low exposure to China and is unlikely to reiterate the same concerns around the U.S.- China trade dispute that SAP has, Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Anurag Rana and Gili Naftalovich said in an Aug. 14 research note. Margins are likely to expand as sales growth exceeds the rate of investment in new products and geographies, but the acquisition of Salesforce.org and currency headwinds may weigh on the rate of expansion, they said.

SAP, which traded at a record high on July 3, has since fallen 14%, with the decline accelerating after it reported a second-quarter slowdown in new cloud bookings and disappointing margins. Analysts also underscored weak growth in software license revenue, hit by uncertainty in Asia.

About 17% of total open interest in Salesforce.com is set to expire on Friday, and implied volatility is elevated at 117% versus a three-month average of 30%.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gregory Calderone in New York at gcalderone7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at clarkin4@bloomberg.net, Richard Richtmyer, Brendan Walsh

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