Zoom Hits US$1 Billion in Quarterly Revenue - Shows Signs of Easing Growth
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Zoom Hits US$1 Billion in Quarterly Revenue – Shows Signs of Easing Growth

Company raises full-year guidance, reports more than half a million customers with more than 10 employees.

By Maria Armental
Tue, Aug 31, 2021 11:27amGrey Clock 2 min

Zoom Video Communications Inc.’s quarterly revenue surpassed US$1 billion for the first time in the company’s history, though the strong demand for its videoconferencing services that made it ubiquitous during the pandemic is showing signs of easing as regular activities resume.

The roughly 54% increase in revenue, while slightly better than Wall Street expected, couldn’t match the huge growth that Zoom had in the year-earlier period, when revenue surged fourfold compared with the prior year as companies leaned more heavily into remote working.

While the company forecast revenue of more than $1 billion again in the current quarter, its adjusted earnings guidance came in lower than expected. And company officials said small businesses and consumers were starting to spend less as opportunities for in-person meetings and gatherings expand. Zoom officials said some metrics supercharged by the pandemic had begun to normalize as customers returned to “more thoughtful, measured buying-patterns.”

Zoom shares fell 12% in after-hours trading, after closing up 2% on Monday.

Research firm International Data Corp. projects that collaboration applications will become a roughly $51 billion market by 2025, nearly double 2020 levels.

Microsoft Corp. in its most recent earnings report said that usage of Teams, its group conferencing and collaboration software, had reached record levels with nearly 250 million monthly active users and nearly 80 million monthly active Teams Phones users, with total calls surpassing 1 billion in one month.

Zoom Phone, which the company sells as a telephone option for huddle rooms and executive offices, in August reached 2 million seats sold, and the number of Phone customers that generated more than $100,000 in revenue over the previous 12 months more than tripled from the comparable period a year earlier, company executives said.

As offices start to reopen, analysts are raising questions about Zoom’s ability to retain paying customers and sustain the kind of growth rate it has enjoyed during the pandemic.

On Monday, Zoom said it had about 504,900 customers with more than 10 employees, up from about 497,000 in the April quarter, and said about 2,278 customers generated more than $100,000 in revenue over the past 12 months, up from about 1,999 in the previous quarter.

Zoom has been adding features and services and in July agreed to buy cloud-based customer-service software provider Five9 Inc., in a deal that Zoom said would allow it to tap into a $24 billion contact-centre market.

“Today we are a global brand counting over half a million customers with more than 10 employees, which we believe positions us extremely well to support organizations and individuals as they look to reimagine work, communications, and collaboration,” Zoom founder and Chief Executive Eric S. Yuan said.

Zoom’s second-quarter profit rose to about $317 million from about $186 million a year earlier, while revenue reached $1.02 billion, up from $663.5 million a year ago.

The results beat Zoom’s and Wall Street projections, according to FactSet.

The California-based company said it now expects annual revenue to reach $4.01 billion to $4.02 billion, compared with its earlier view of $3.98 billion to $3.99 billion, and $4.75 to $4.79 a share in adjusted profit, compared with its previous range of $4.56 to $4.61 a share.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 30, 2021



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Why Prices of the World’s Most Expensive Handbags Keep Rising

Designers are charging more for their most recognisable bags to maintain the appearance of exclusivity as the industry balloons

By CAROL RYAN
Tue, Mar 5, 2024 3 min

The price of a basic Hermès Birkin handbag has jumped $1,000. This first-world problem for fashionistas is a sign that luxury brands are playing harder to get with their most sought-after products.

Hermès recently raised the cost of a basic Birkin 25-centimeter handbag in its U.S. stores by 10% to $11,400 before sales tax, according to data from luxury handbag forum PurseBop. Rarer Birkins made with exotic skins such as crocodile have jumped more than 20%. The Paris brand says it only increases prices to offset higher manufacturing costs, but this year’s increase is its largest in at least a decade.

The brand may feel under pressure to defend its reputation as the maker of the world’s most expensive handbags. The “Birkin premium”—the price difference between the Hermès bag and its closest competitor , the Chanel Classic Flap in medium—shrank from 70% in 2019 to 2% last year, according to PurseBop founder Monika Arora. Privately owned Chanel has jacked up the price of its most popular handbag by 75% since before the pandemic.

Eye-watering price increases on luxury brands’ benchmark products are a wider trend. Prada ’s Galleria bag will set shoppers back a cool $4,600—85% more than in 2019, according to the Wayback Machine internet archive. Christian Dior ’s Lady Dior bag and the Louis Vuitton Neverfull are both 45% more expensive, PurseBop data show.

With the U.S. consumer-price index up a fifth since 2019, luxury brands do need to offset higher wage and materials costs. But the inflation-beating increases are also a way to manage the challenge presented by their own success: how to maintain an aura of exclusivity at the same time as strong sales.

Luxury brands have grown enormously in recent years, helped by the Covid-19 lockdowns, when consumers had fewer outlets for spending. LVMH ’s fashion and leather goods division alone has almost doubled in size since 2019, with €42.2 billion in sales last year, equivalent to $45.8 billion at current exchange rates. Gucci, Chanel and Hermès all make more than $10 billion in sales a year. One way to avoid overexposure is to sell fewer items at much higher prices.

Many aspirational shoppers can no longer afford the handbags, but luxury brands can’t risk alienating them altogether. This may explain why labels such as Hermès and Prada have launched makeup lines and Gucci’s owner Kering is pushing deeper into eyewear. These cheaper categories can be a kind of consolation prize. They can also be sold in the tens of millions without saturating the market.

“Cosmetics are invisible—unless you catch someone applying lipstick and see the logo, you can’t tell the brand,” says Luca Solca, luxury analyst at Bernstein.

Most of the luxury industry’s growth in 2024 will come from price increases. Sales are expected to rise by 7% this year, according to Bernstein estimates, even as brands only sell 1% to 2% more stuff.

Limiting volume growth this way only works if a brand is so popular that shoppers won’t balk at climbing prices and defect to another label. Some companies may have pushed prices beyond what consumers think they are worth. Sales of Prada’s handbags rose a meagre 1% in its last quarter and the group’s cheaper sister label Miu Miu is growing faster.

Ramping up prices can invite unflattering comparisons. At more than $2,000, Burberry ’s small Lola bag is around 40% more expensive today than it was a few years ago. Luxury shoppers may decide that tried and tested styles such as Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull bag, which is now a little cheaper than the Burberry bag, are a better buy—especially as Louis Vuitton bags hold their value better in the resale market.

Aggressive price increases can also drive shoppers to secondhand websites. If a barely used Prada Galleria bag in excellent condition can be picked up for $1,500 on luxury resale website The Real Real, it is less appealing to pay three times that amount for the bag brand new.

The strategy won’t help everyone, but for the best luxury brands, stretching the price spectrum can keep the risks of growth in check.

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