Autodesk Shocks Markets With 31% Revenue Drop:
Autodesk's Q3 results were so awful that even the BBC's World Service took notice, naming the company and its 31% drop in revenues during one of its brief business reports last week. In contrast, revenues of competitors PTC and Dassault dropped "just" 18% and 13%, respectively. When management revealed the news, the ADSK share price dropped ten percent, and has barely recovered as of this morning.
Figure 2: ADSK share price makes like the Cliffs of Dover.
The primary reason for the drop in revenues was an agonizing 41% drop in sales of AutoCAD and LT, the dynamic due that generated the bulk of Autodesk's revenues in years past. Sales dropped, despite $500 rebates offered to new customers. For LT, the company offers a double rebate to those who download the 30-day trial version, just about cutting in half the price of the overpriced, under featured software.
(Quarterly numbers are normally compared with the same quarter a year earlier.)
Most disturbing to financial analysts was the fall in subscription income, once touted by a former ceo as the guarantee for smoothed future income. Over the past three quarters (nine months), subscription billings declined by 14%, 11%, and now 10%. Customers aren't necessarily stopping payment on subs, explains current ceo Carl Bass; they just aren't paying for licenses unused by laid-off employees. Fire 30% of workers; pay 30% less in maintenance.
While Mr Bass is cheered by signs of the recession's end, he still worries over poor employment numbers. Greater spending on Autodesk software will come about only when more CAD users are employed. Layoffs, however, continue in the tech industry this month.
Nevertheless, the company did find some cheery spots in its financial numbers. It didn't run a loss in Q3, as it had in Q2. The drop in 3D sales was not as severe as it was for AutoCAD. And the company is still the largest CAD vendor.