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Analyst Blog (CRM - Analyst Report) is set to report fourth-quarter 2013 results on Feb 28. Last quarter, the company missed expectations. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors This Past Quarter

Amid all the macro uncertainty and that resulted in conservative tech spending, reported dismal third-quarter 2013 results. The company reported a much wider-than-expected loss per share in the last reported quarter.

On the positive side, the company witnessed revenue growth across geographies and received strong business from its cloud customers. The fourth-quarter guidance was modest, although the results came below expectation.

However, we remain concerned about a sluggish business environment in Europe, coupled with currency headwinds, not-so-encouraging tech expenses and stiff competition from its peers.

Though we are encouraged by Salesforce’s growth prospects in the cloud market, the renewed focus of tech giants such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ - Analyst Report) into the cloud space intensified competition in the third quarter.

Considering the situation, it is hard to predict Salesforce’s success story, unless the company adopts other innovative business strategies to influence growth.

Earnings Whispers?

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter stands at a loss of 3 cents, while that for fiscal 2013 stands at 11 cents.

There has been no estimate revision for the company over the last 30, 60 or 90 days, as no major developments took place post its third-quarter results.

Salesforce shares carry a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). The sell rated stocks (#4 and #5) should never be considered going into an earnings announcement.

Other Stocks To Consider

Here are a few stocks that might be worth considering at this point since they have the right combination of elements – Zacks Ranks #1, #2, or #3 and a positive Zacks expected surprise prediction, or ESP (Read: Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method) to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Symantec Corp. (SYMC - Analyst Report), with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) with an ESP of +5.88%.

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