MicroStrategy’s large shareholders are excited by this one ambiguous promise

Large shareholders found reason to be excited by MicroStrategy’s otherwise lackluster earnings report Monday thanks to this one ambiguous sentence: “The company also intends to meet with certain of its large investors from time to time.”

MicroStrategy does not specify in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing who constitutes “certain of its large investors” or how often “from time to time” will be. A company spokesman did not return multiple requests for comment.

Nevertheless, some investors are optimistic the vague promise means the company is moving away from its decade-long practice of offering little or no guidance to Wall Street analysts and investors about its future financial goals and performance.

“We are encouraged by this small but important step in rebuilding relations with investors. It is our hope that this is a signal of future efforts by the management and board to help create shareholder value,” Gil Simon, the portfolio manager for technology and entertainment at Apex Capital, said via e-mail.

Apex Capital was among the large shareholders who voiced discontent earlier this year that MicroStrategy stock lagged in value behind others in the enterprise software sector. Critics claimed that CEO Michael Saylor’s lifestyle of lavish parties and exotic travel have taken his time and attention away from day-to-day business operations.


Michael Saylor is the CEO of MicroStrategy, an enterprise software company based in Tysons Corner. (Courtesy of Microstrategy)

MicroStrategy, in turn, defended Saylor. A spokesman said at the time that Saylor remains engaged as ever in the direction of the company, even when staying at his Miami mansion or vacationing on his yachts.

Deutsche Bank analyst Karl Keirstead has been among the critics of MicroStrategy’s no-communication policy. But after an annual shareholder meeting last week, Keirstead upgraded the firm’s stock to buy on news it may resurrect talks with investors.

“We understand that [MicroStrategy] management indicated a desire to open up to the Street and is now willing to meet with top shareholders. While [MicroStrategy] is unlikely to offer guidance, we believe an earnings call is under consideration,” Keirstead wrote in a report last week.

“In our view this move to greater transparency and a focus on shares offers a material near-term catalyst and was likely in response to a more assertive shareholder base and a recognition that attracting and retaining top talent will require stock-based awards and hence a focus on the stock,” Keirstead stated in the report.

In Monday’s filing, MicroStrategy posted a net loss of $6.5 million for the first three months of the year, a steep decline from the net profit of $51.6 million the company made in the same period last year. (That profit was chiefly attributed to a $57.4 million after-tax gain associated with the sale of Angel.com).

The company also reported revenue of $137.9 million for the first quarter of the year, up slightly compared to revenue of $130.2 million during the same period last year.

“We conclude that these results are ‘ok, not great’ and are overshadowed by the recent decision to meet with investors after 10 years of no communication,” Keirstead wrote Monday in a separate report.

Follow reporter Steven Overly on Twitter: @StevenOverly

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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