VMware Earnings Call Insights: Guidance and Recent Initiatives

VMware, Inc. (NYSE:VMW) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.


Adam Holt – Morgan Stanley: I had a couple of questions about the guidance. The color on sort of the factors around Q1 is helpful, but you are guiding to what looks like the quarter-on-quarter decline, it’s bigger than we saw even in the first quarter of 2009. I wanted to clarify, one, so you are excluding any lost revenue from pivotal even though you are not quantifying it, and two, as you look at the pits and takes on some of the other drivers for the conservatism, what – could you maybe quantify how you are thinking about the different elements?

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Jonathan Chadwick – CFO and EVP: Adam this is Jonathan. Thanks for the question. Just taking them in two pieces, so just to be clear, we have not included any specific guidance with respect to pivotal so we will be updating you at – as Pat said at our VMware-EMC Analysts Day on March 13th. So you should see them as sort of business as normal if you like for pivotal. That’s important to understand. The second thing is yes, I mean, as I have looked at the overall plan, working with Pat and with Carl and the rest of the management team, the guidance takes into account the macroeconomic situation that we described and we have experienced. It also clearly takes into account the Q3, Q4 bookings performance. Obviously bookings, is a leading indicator of as to how revenue tracks. We also see in Q1, in particular, some tougher compares as I mentioned, we saw a particularly strong performance in a couple of ELAs in Q1, ’12, totaling around $40 million, which right now we’re not forecasting that sort of level of individual deal when we look at Q1. So, I have figured it when I have looked at those various things, we’ve certainly looked in the context of first half, second half as well and hopefully you saw this, but we do anticipate an accelerating growth pattern over the course of the year, but the first half does take into account those various factors. Then finally, I think there is going to be some distraction as we work through the Pivotal activities as we finalize that structure and as we also work through some of these realignment activities as we set ourselves up well for not just the tail end of 2013, but also the longer-term opportunity. Again, so if I’d net all that out, it reflects my approach, certainly the management team’s approach, but I want to be as open and as transparent as possible, but I guess if I was to provide you an exact summary, I’d consider myself to be conservative, but realistic.

Adam Holt – Morgan Stanley: If I could just ask a quick follow-up on margins, it looks like if you net out the 900 lost heads, and then add a 1,000, you are at best sort of growing your headcount at 15% year-on-year, kind of in line with the midpoint of the revenue guidance. Can you walk us through why margins would be down on a year-on-year basis?

Jonathan Chadwick – CFO and EVP: Adam, I’ll take that one as well. The first thing to bear in mind is we are going to be investing over the course of the year, and you correctly picked up, we are investing a net about a 1,000 heads, even taking into account this action we talked about today. However, we’ve also added 2,600 people over the course of 2012, so we’ve got the full impact of that investment that we’ve made already going into 2013, that puts a little bit of pressure on operating margin and especially in the first half. We also anticipate we once see the full OpEx benefit of all of the headcount actions and the realignment activities, probably until the second half as some of realignment activities, well planned won’t be completed in the first half, most will, but we expect some of that to continue, especially as we think about geographical activity over the course of the year. So, all of that’s considered in the operating margin guidance as we thought about the profile for the first half and the second half.

Recent Initiatives

Sonya Banerjee – Goldman Sachs: This is Sonya Banerjee on for Heather. Just in terms of first quarter guidance, just to quickly touch on the maintenance and services component there. So just following on to Adam’s question, if you’re looking for a high-teen sequential decline on the license fees, what are the puts and takes on the services line in terms of maintenance and the pro services piece there? Then just more to a high-level for the full year, just given license guidance, it seems like – what are the specific milestones that we need to see you guys hit on your new more recent initiatives in order to just to reaccelerate growth?

Jonathan Chadwick – CFO and EVP: Maybe I’ll start, and I can let Pat or Carl add color, this is Jonathan again. Again, when we think about the year overall, I just want to make sure we’ve all heard this. I think the first half is probably more challenging, but we do see activity towards the second half driving towards a stronger performance overall. You certainly heard the guidance with respect to license, and remember the S&S or the service and support growth in revenues clearly reflects bookings that we took over the course of the latter part of 2012 as well. So we would anticipate, again, the second half to be stronger as we think about the overall profile of the quarter. License and overall bookings growth for Q1 does certainly reflect some of those year-over-year compares that I mentioned earlier on Sonya. Carl, do you want to add anything to it?

Carl Eschenbach – COO and Co-President: Yes. As far as metrics Sonya, I talked about my prepared remarks the success we had around the vCloud Suite in Q4 which was our first full quarter of having that in the market and as I indicated it was ahead of our booking expectations that we had internally which shows the demand and the customer’s confidence in VMware to deliver the software-defined datacenter. The other metric I would look at is the attach rate of the Suite to Enterprise license agreements and we continue to see a high attach rate to the ELAs with the Suite itself. Then the third metric we are starting to look at metrics that actually are outside of just pure revenue like things around the Nicira platform where we are seeing customer adoption and proof of concepts take place around network virtualization as we look at the early stages of the adoption of network virtualization in the market. So we will continue to think of other metrics to share with you, to ensure that you guys have a better understanding and view in perspective of how we are defining success internally as customers adopt our solutions.

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