Workday Cuts Forecast, Shares Plunge on Lower Subscription Revenue Outlook

Workday's shares fell over 11% in extended trading after the company cut its full-year subscription revenue forecast, now expecting $7.7 billion to $7.73 billion, citing slower customer growth amid hiring and budget cuts.

Workday Inc. experienced a significant downturn in its financial outlook, as demonstrated by an over 11% fall in shares in extended trading. This was primarily due to the company lowering its full-year subscription revenue forecast for fiscal 2025, adjusting its expectations to a range between $7.7 billion and $7.73 billion from the previously forecasted range of $7.73 billion to $7.78 billion. The revision underscores the challenges Workday is facing, including a slowdown in customer growth attributed to hiring and budget cuts across various sectors.

Despite this setback, Workday reported solid first-quarter fiscal 2025 results, with both revenue and adjusted earnings per share surpassing Zacks Consensus Estimate. Total revenue saw an 18.1% increase from the previous year to $1.99 billion, bolstered by strong customer wins across multiple industries such as education, financials, and healthcare. The subscription services revenue stood at $1.82 billion, reflecting an 18.8% year-over-year growth, which shows the resilience and appeal of Workday's Human Capital Management (HCM) and financial management solutions amidst market volatility.

Net income on a GAAP basis improved significantly to $107 million or 40 cents per share, compared to a break-even result in the year-ago quarter. This jump was attributed to higher revenues despite increased operating expenses. The non-GAAP earnings rose to $1.74 per share, exceeding analyst expectations and highlighting the company's operational efficiency and profitability.

Operating income turned positive with $64 million, or 3.2% of revenues, marking a significant turnaround from an operating loss in the same period last year. Moreover, Workday continued to innovate and expand its offerings, with highlights including the completion of the HiredScore acquisition, which enhances its AI-powered talent acquisition and mobility solutions. The company's strategic focus on AI, international expansion, and co-innovation with key partners such as AWS and Google Cloud underscores its commitment to long-term growth.

However, despite reporting strong first-quarter results and maintaining a broad product portfolio with significant customer wins and expansions, Workday's revised subscription revenue outlook has raised concerns. The company cites heightened sales scrutiny and slower customer headcount growth as key factors behind this adjustment. Consequently, Workday's shares saw a notable dip, reflecting investor apprehensions about the company's future revenue growth and its ability to navigate the current economic uncertainties.

Workday's forward-looking statements anticipate subscription revenue growth of approximately 17% for the full year and a non-GAAP operating margin of 25%. For the upcoming second quarter, the company expects continued growth in subscription services revenues and a non-GAAP operating margin of approximately 24.5%.

In summary, despite the challenges reflected in its revised subscription revenue forecast, Workday demonstrated solid fiscal performance in the first quarter, driven by robust demand for its solutions and strategic expansions. The company remains focused on driving long-term growth through innovation, strategic partnerships, and an expanding product portfolio, which could potentially offset present concerns over slower customer growth.

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