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Salesforce forecasts lower-than-expected first-quarter profit, shares fall

The Salesforce logo is pictured on a building in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lily Jamali

By Rishika Sadam

(Reuters) - Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N) forecast a lower-than-expected profit for the first quarter, sending its shares down nearly 2 percent in extended trading on Tuesday.

The company said it expects first-quarter adjusted profit of 25 cents-26 cents per share. Analysts were expecting a profit of 30 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"There might be some noise about the numbers (outlook) and seasonality, but I think the fundamentals are fine," Steve Koenig, a Wedbush Securities analyst said.

The company has been focusing on acquisitions and partnerships to bolster its services and gain market share amid stiff competition from Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Oracle Corp (ORCL.N).

Salesforce is working on broadening its services portfolio to keep its existing users. As part of its efforts the company launched its artificial intelligence platform Einstein in October.

The company raised its full-year revenue guidance slightly to $10.15 billion-$10.20 billion, up from its previous range of $10.1 billion-$10.15 billion.

Salesforce, which is considered as a barometer for cloud-computing, reported a better-than-expected profit and revenue for the fourth quarter helped by strong demand for its cloud-based sales and marketing software services.

The company's net loss widened to $51.4 million, or 7 cents per share, in the quarter ended Jan. 31, from a loss of $25.5 million, or 4 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 28 cents per share. Revenue rose 26.8 percent to $2.29 billion.

Analysts on an average had expected a profit of 25 cents on revenue of $2.28 billion.

Up to Tuesday's close, the company's stock had risen nearly 20 percent in the past 12 months.

(Reporting by Rishika Sadam in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)