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25.05.2011 SAP Investors Want Proof $28 Billion Sales Target Can Be Met

A week after wooing software customers with mobile and data-analysis programs at a U.S.
conference, SAP AG’s co-chief executive officers need to win over investors by explaining how they will reach sales targets.
Shareholders gathering today in Mannheim, Germany, want Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe to give details on how the largest business-management software maker can achieve its goal of making a quarter of 2015 sales -- projected at 20 billion euros ($28 billion) -- from mobile products, services and data analysis software such as the Hana technology.
The co-CEOs, ushered in by Chairman and co-founder Hasso Plattner 15 months ago, have gone on an offensive with new software. At the Sapphire conference in Orlando, Florida, SAP announced the release of mobile applications; it struck deals to store, deliver and develop software over the Internet with Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp. Customers such as Colgate- Palmolive Co. and Lenovo Group Ltd. talked about their experiences with the Hana analytics technology.

“Many investors believe SAP’s product portfolio has potential, but we want to see proof and we probably won’t see that for another two years, three years,” said Thilo Mueller, a portfolio manager at MB Fund Advisory GmbH in Limburg, Germany, who helps manage 120 million euros including SAP shares. “I haven’t yet had the big ‘Aha!’ moment with the new management.”

Sybase Purchase

McDermott, 49, and Snabe, 45, replaced now-Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Leo Apotheker in February 2010 amid employee and customer discontent, as well as delays in its Web-based software. “We didn’t have a real story,” Plattner said about SAP before the management change, in an interview last month at SAP’s California campus overlooking the Palo Alto hills. “What does SAP do next?”
Weeks before last year’s annual meeting SAP agreed to purchase mobile-computing software maker Sybase Inc. for $5.8 billion in the company’s second-largest takeover.
SAP fell 1.3 percent to 42.42 euros at 9:34 a.m. in Frankfurt. Before today, the stock had risen 29 percent since the co-CEOs took over. Rival Oracle Corp. increased 40 percent in the same period, and the Bloomberg World Software Index was up 19 percent.
Under Apotheker’s two-year leadership, SAP’s stock generated annualized returns of 5.7 percent, according to Bloomberg data.
“Last year they were still on the back foot” after giving in to customer pressure and delaying a price increase on enterprise support, said Rajeev Bahl, co-head of software and IT services research at London-based Matrix Corporate Capital LLP, who has a “buy” rating and a 50 euro price estimate for SAP.
“This year they are much more confident in their ability to grow beyond the core.”

Core Business

In 2010, SAP’s software for enterprise resource planning, or ERP, used for tasks including financial planning, human resources and product development, accounted for 72 percent of sales. ERP customers include American Express Co., Canon Inc.
and The Body Shop. SAP sales were 12.5 billion euros last year.
“In three years, ERP will have lots of mobile screens and will have a lot of in-memory-based” capabilities, Snabe said in an interview in Orlando. This is how mobile and in-memory will have a “huge influence on” the last 5 billion euros in SAP’s 20 billion-euro sales target. Such in-memory capabilities allow complex calculations to be performed instantly, and may help users to forecast how changes affect business.
In 2009, toward the end of Apotheker’s reign, the company had quarreled with some customers about maintenance prices. In January 2010, SAP caved in to customer pressure and froze planned fee hikes. The company also started offering clients a choice between a full range of tailor-made services and a lower- priced standard package with basic software backup.

"True North"

“We’ve brought a certain humbleness, a certain intellectual curiosity, and patience for listening,” McDermott said about the relationship to customers after Apotheker’s departure. “You keep your promises, you do this one quarter, one year, at a time and you stay true north to your vision. And we’ll be there at 20 billion euros by 2015.”
During Apotheker’s departure, Plattner, who created SAP in
1972 with former colleagues from International Business Machines Corp., vowed to make SAP a “happy company again.” Plattner sought to remove management hierarchies and worked with Vishal Sikka, the executive board member in charge of technology, to speed up software development.

"Right Strategy?"

“Innovating doesn’t go through PowerPoint,” Plattner said in the interview. “I should have done this 20 years ago; it would have been a different company.”
Some investors are prepared to wait.
“In all likelihood it will be a couple of years at least before we can tell if it was the right strategy or not,” said Jella Benner-Heinacher, a representative of the DSW German shareholders association. “If you consider the Googles and Microsofts of this world, every day another company is being acquired in this industry that changes the make-up of the market and it will be interesting to see how SAP positions itself.”

Quelle: Bloomberg News