Shares of SAP SE rose $14.28 in trading Wednesday, topping $128 for the first time, as the Germany-based business-software company, which employs around 3,000 people at its U.S. headquarters in Newtown Square, said it would cut costs and stop the big acquisitions that had marked the CEO tenure of its chief executive, Main Line resident Bill McDermott, since he took the top job in 2010.
“Revenue, margins and earnings per share (were) above consensus expectations,” and fueled expectations for higher profits ahead, analyst Brian Schwartz told clients of Oppenheimer & Co. in a report. But SAP hasn’t raised its formal profit targets, which remain below rivals such as Oracle, Microsoft and Salesforce, he added.
Pressed by Merrill Lynch analyst John King about SAP’s merger plans after the company borrowed $8 billion last year to buy privately-owned analytics firm Qualtrics, McDermott told investors in his quarterly conference call that he had no more major acquisitions in sight: “If we do something, it’ll be very tuck-in in its orientation and nothing sizable or scalable for you to be concerned with.”
The shift in policy followed disclosure that the Elliott firm, an activist investor, has bought one percent of SAP’s stock and is pushing for higher shareholder payments.
McDermott, a former Xerox salesman, claimed to welcome the move: “Our shareholders are going to be super-psyched," he told the Reuters news agency.
Acquired products have helped SAP maintain sales to German and other companies as industry shifts applications onto remote servers in the cloud, but the company has had a harder time boosting profit margins, or holding onto the executives of acquired firms.
Shares rose despite SAP’s report of first-quarter losses following layoffs of more than 4,000 of its nearly 100,000 global staff. The stock was up $14..28 to $129.08, a gain of 12.44.