Wednesday, 28 January 2009

SAP freezes salaries and cuts 3,000 jobs

(By Anthony Miller). SAP is to freeze salaries and reduce its global workforce to some 48,500 staff by the end of the year in order to save €300-350m p.a. from 2010.The cuts will cost SAP 2-3 percentage points in ’09 margin. In reporting 4Q/FY08 results, CEO Leo Apotheker reiterated statements back in October (see SAP withdraws guidance as loses share to Oracle) that business visibility was ‘limited’, making it tricky to forecast sales. However, Apotheker mooted flat to 1% declining group revenues this year at constant currencies (ccy).

Frankly, the full year results are less meaningful as, by Apotheker’s own comment, 2008 was "a year having two completely opposite halves”. The final quarter says it all. Software licence revenues (including Business Objects, consolidated early ‘08,) fell 6% ccy to €1.32bn, with most of the pain felt in the Americas (~30% of total licence revs) where licence revenues fell 18% ccy. EMEA licence revenues (~60% of the total) were broadly flat. In contrast, support revenues (~36% SAP’s total revenues) grew 27% ccy to €1.27bn, undoubtedly aided by recent maintenance price hikes and Business Objects. Without Business Objects, SAP’s SSRS (software and software-related services) revenues fell 6% ccy. Subscription revenues, which we assume includes SAP’s fledgling and much delayed mid-market SaaS offering, Business ByDesign (BBD), ‘soared’ 36% ccy to €74m. Apotheker made little comment on BBD in the results statement so we’ll have to wait until today’s concalls to glean more.

It’s clear that the decline in SAP licence sales is starting to flow through to the IT services ‘ecosystem’. I’ve heard from a few players that SAP skills supply is now easing, though I still think there’s a lot of work out there consolidating and ‘harmonising’ SAP systems as part of customer cost-reduction initiatives. There’s also a fair amount of SAP ‘shelfware’ (purchased but not installed) in customers’ premises which will help keep SIs in work, though the opportunity for major new SAP roll-outs seems low. However, the implied (relatively) better performance of Business Objects suggests that customers still view business intelligence software as a worthwhile investment in the downturn.

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