Splunk shares plunge as CEO steps down, shares plunge

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Splunk shares plunge as CEO steps down, shares plunge

The software company's chief executive has stepped down and shares of Splunk Inc. are plunging Monday after the software company announced that its chief executive has stepped down.

Graham Smith, chair of Splunk's SPLK board and a former Salesforce.com Inc. CRM, chief financial officer, will be moving into the interim chief executive position immediately. He replaces Doug Merritt, who served as the president and CEO of Splunk for six years.

In a release, Merritt said that the Board is focused on identifying a leader with a proven track record of scaling operations and growing multi-billion dollar enterprises and that we decided now is the time to transition to our next phase of leadership.

Splunk's stock is off 16.7% in Monday morning trading and is on track for its worst single day decline since Dec. 3, 2020, when it lost 23.3%.

Splunk provided preliminary financial results for its October quarter. Analysts said the company expected to report $660 million in revenue for the quarter, while analysts tracked by FactSet were forecasting $642 million and Splunk had issued guidance calling for $625 million to $650 million. The company expects to have an annual revenue ARR of $2.825 billion, while the FactSet consensus was for $2.817 billion. Splunk predicted an ARR of $2.8 billion to $2.825 billion.

The results show that the business is in a much better shape than the multiple implies, according to Evercore ISI analyst Kirk Materne, while we expect that bears could point out that Splunk didn't beat its ARR guidance by as much as some others outperformed. When Materne published his note, the stock traded at a multiple of 9 times the enterprise value to calendar 2023 revenue expectations.

Materne argued that the CEO transition shouldn't come as a surprise to investors and viewed Splunk's Monday selloff as a buying opportunity.

In a market where investors gravitate towards clean stories, Splunk is not top of mind for most software investors right now, but we believe that the combination of a new CEO, a new investor and board member Silver Lake and solid fundamentals ARR up 37% in 3Q could lead to a significant re-rate over the next 6 -- 9 months.

Splunk shares have declined nearly 18% this year, while the S&P 500 SPX has gone up about 25%.