Blogs -I/O Fund’s Cloud Q3 2021 Earnings Overview

I/O Fund’s Cloud Q3 2021 Earnings Overview

November 05, 2021

Bradley Cipriano

Equity Analyst

In the analysis below, we give a brief overview of our universe of cloud stocks and discuss key metrics that investors should be aware of heading into Q3 earnings.

Cloud Stocks: Top 10 EV/FWD Revenue Multiples

Below is a table of cloud stocks ranked by their EV/FWD sales multiples, along with their most recent YoY growth rate, gross and free cashflow (FCF) margins. Cloud has been a strong category for growth recently, which has rewarded the top performers with premium multiples

Cloudflare (NET) has the highest EV/FWD sales multiple in our universe of cloud stocks. The company has made some announcements around object storage costs recently, which could be impactful for the company going forward.

Snowflake is right behind Cloudflare at a 91x EV/FWD Revenue multiple. Snowflake grew sales over 100% in Q2, and its net revenue retention rate was 169% during the quarter, highlighting the company’s success in capturing market share. Management attributed the strong results to increased customer data consumption, a trend that will likely continue into the future.

Cloud Stocks: Top 10 Three-month Forward YoY Growth Rates

Looking forward, (BILL) and Snowflake are expected to be the fastest growing cloud stocks in our universe. BILL’s expected growth rate is skewed by its recent acquisition of Divvy, and excluding the acquisition, organic growth is expected to be ~60% next quarter. Snowflake is expected to continue to report strong growth of 92%, similar to the 104% growth it reported in the most recent quarter. As mentioned above, Snowflake is benefitting from a secular tailwinds as enterprises increase their data consumption.

Top 10 Weekly Share Price Movements

In the table below, we ranked the cloud stocks that saw the largest one week increase in their share price. Shopify (SHOP) has been a top performer this past week, as the stock rebounded after a slight sell-off following its Q3 results. Microsoft (MSFT) also reported last week and the market reacted by increasing its market cap to $2.5T, surpassing Apple as the most valuable company in the world.

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The I/O Fund has covered Microsoft in detail since 2018 when Beth explained Microsoft’s hybrid strategy when she boldly stated that Azure could overtake AWS on cloud IaaS. Microsoft’s hybrid cloud approach has allowed the company to outperform its peers and positions Microsoft well to continue to take share in the hyper-growth cloud market.

Top 10 Changes in sales growth estimates – last 90 days

The table below ranks the cloud companies that have had the largest revisions to their forward topline growth expectations over the last 90 days. As mentioned above, (BILL) recently completed a series of acquisitions which contributed to an outsized increase in its sales expectations. Similarly, Qualtrics (XM) recently completed its acquisition of Clarabridge, which has led to an upward adjustment in its growth rate. Datadog’s (DDOG) estimates have increased 9% over the last 90 days and its stock price has also increased nearly 50% over the same time period. The market is likely pricing in strong growth for the company as Datadog continues to lead in the cloud observability category.

Update on EV/Fwd revenue multiples:

Overall stats:

  • Overall Cloud forward median:  16x
  • Top 5 Cloud forward median:  65x
  • Overall Cloud forward average:  22x


As shown below, the median and average cloud EV/Fwd revenue multiple has trended up throughout the year. The average multiple has started to increase faster than the median, as the top valued cloud companies have experienced a sharp rise in their multiples in recent months.


In the chart below, we can more clearly see the large dispersion in cloud valuations, as the top 5 premium valued cloud stocks have had their EV/Fwd sales multiples rapidly expand since May 2021 and are now at new highs. The cloud category is often considered to a be a “winner gets most” market, where the market leader captures the majority of the addressable market. This dynamic helps explain why the top 5 valued cloud stocks have grown their multiples much faster than the median.

EV TO FWD SALES Growth Buckets:

We can further dissect the changes in cloud valuations by breaking up the group into high growth (>30% growth), mid growth (>15% and <30%) and low growth (<15%). The below chart shows that higher growth cloud stocks receive a higher multiple from the Street. Furthermore, high growth stocks used to be valued more richly back in Q4 2020 but have since seen their valuations normalize to a lower multiple. If Q3 cloud earnings come in strong, then the market may push valuations back up to their historic highs.


The below chart provides a more holistic view of the top 30 valued cloud stocks based on EV to Fwd revenue estimates. Cloudflare (NET) and Snowflake (SNOW) have the highest valuations of the group and are valued more than 500% higher than the cloud median of 15x. As mentioned above, NET and SNOW are benefitting from trends that are expected to continue to result in robust growth going forward, such as cloud storage costs and data consumption. 

Growth adjusted EV/Fwd Revenue (EV/Fwd Rev/Fwd Growth):

The last chart is based on EV to FWD sales but also takes into account forward growth expectations. By scaling valuation relative to forward growth, we can more clearly see which companies are cheapest relative to forward growth. A low value in the chart below means that a company is cheap relative to growth. For example, SNOW dropped from being one of the most expensive stocks to being valued closer to the median once we take into account its strong growth expected next quarter.

Finally, the last table we will be discussing includes aggregate cloud operating metrics. The below table shows that cloud is performing strongly as the median forward growth rate is above 20%, while gross margins are high at over 70%. The median cloud company is also FCF positive with a 6% FCF margin.

Strong growth and positive cashflows signal that the cloud category is healthy and performing well. The I/O Fund expects this strength to continue going forward. Find out which the Street has been saying about cloud stocks heading into earnings. “Overview of 6 Cloud Stocks for Q3 Earnings”

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