, inc. Earnings: 4 Key Metrics for Investors to Focus On

On Tuesday, Aug. 22, (NYSE: CRM) will report results for its second quarter of fiscal 2018. The company has outperformed the S&P 500 so far this year, rising about 32% year to date compared to the S&P 500's 8% increase during this same period. Investors will be looking for the enterprise cloud-solutions company to continue outperforming expectations.

When reports results, the following four metrics will give investors useful insight into the company's performance.

1. Revenue

Salesforce's revenue is particularly important. The company is a growth stock, and its investors are betting on a sustainable, strong growth story that can help it continue to scale its operations and improve its profitability, ultimately justifying the company's high price-to-sales ratio of 7.2. (The average price-to-sales ratio of its software-application peers is 5.6.)

Look for's revenue to be in line with management's guidance for year-over-year top-line growth of 23% to 24% -- preferably at the high end of this guidance given the stock's recent rise. In the company's most recent quarter, revenue increased 25% year over year.

2. Deferred revenue

Every quarter, management updates investors on its deferred revenue, or revenue that "primarily consists of billings or payments received in advance of revenue recognition from subscription services," management explained in its most recent 10-K filing. Importantly, deferred revenue can give investors insight into the company's growth trajectory beyond its recognized quarterly revenue.

Investors should look for on-balance sheet deferred revenue growth in Q2 of about 22% year over year -- in line with management's guidance for the key metric.

3. Cash

A key reason for growing investor optimism toward Salesforce is the company's fast-improving ability to rake in meaningful sums of cash. In its most recent quarter, Salesforce generated an impressive $1.23 billion from operations, up 17% year over year. In addition, Salesforce's total cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities climbed to $3.22 billion.

Look for cash from operations rise at a similar year-over-year rate as it did in Q1, helping Salesforce's total cash on hand to increase further.

4. Guidance

One area that could move the stock when reports second-quarter results is its guidance -- both for its third fiscal quarter of fiscal 2018 and its full fiscal year. Guidance will likely be watched closely by investors since in's most recent quarter, the company raised its guidance for full-year GAAP earnings per share (EPS), non-GAAP EPS, and revenue.

Investors may want to look for's guidance for its third-quarter revenue and non-GAAP EPS to be in line with analysts' consensus estimate for the two metrics. Analysts expect third-quarter revenue and non-GAAP EPS of $2.61 billion and $0.36, respectively.

For the full year, analysts should look for Salesforce to either maintain or increase its guidance for this period. Currently, expects full-year revenue to be between $10.25 billion and $10.30 billion, GAAP EPS to be between $0.06 and $0.08, non-GAAP EPS to be between $1.28 and $1.30, and operating cash flow growth to be between 20% and 21% year over year.

Overall, investors should look for more solid performance from The company is on fire -- and there's little reason to expect its execution or market opportunity to dwindle. Not only is Salesforce the market leader in customer relationship management (CRM), but the company is continuing to increase its share in CRM recently. Topping it all off, CRM is the fastest-growing enterprise software market.

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Daniel Sparks has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.