Oracle profit beats Street forecasts

SEATTLE Thu Sep 16, 2010 7:01pm EDT

Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison delivers his keynote address at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, September 24, 2008. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison delivers his keynote address at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, September 24, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - Oracle Corp ORCL.O posted a 25 percent surge in software sales that sharply beat forecasts and a pickup in its new hardware business, underscoring robust tech spending by corporations and boosting its shares more than 4 percent.

Its quarterly earnings and revenue forecasts also exceeded Wall Street's targets, despite recent pessimism among tech companies about the economic recovery.

"Despite the fact that the economy is having difficulties, for Oracle it continues to show that their consolidated strategy continues to pay off," said Michael Yoshikami, chief investment strategist at YCMNET Advisors.

Oracle said it expected non-GAAP earnings per share of 45 cents to 47 cents for the second fiscal quarter, versus analysts' consensus forecast of 45 cents according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We do believe that the guidance I'm giving is realistic, though conservative," Oracle President Safra Catz told analysts. "I want to emphasize that our pipelines are very strong in both software and hardware."

New software sales -- which generate long-term maintenance contracts, signaling future profitability -- were up 25 percent at $1.3 billion. The company had forecast three months ago a rise of between 2 percent and 12 percent.

Software sales are expected to rise by 9 percent to 19 percent in the current quarter at a constant currency rate.

"I don't believe there's any other company in the industry that's better positioned," Oracle President Mark Hurd said on his first earnings conference call since joining Oracle after resigning from rival Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N) under a cloud of scandal in August.

The world's No. 3 software maker, which sells business software, database systems and now server hardware through its recent purchase of Sun Microsystems, reported net profit of $1.35 billion, or 27 cents per share, compared with $1.12 billion, or 22 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Excluding some items, it reported a profit of 42 cents per share. That beat Wall Street's average estimate of 37 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 50 percent to $7.6 billion on a non-GAAP basis, helped by the acquisition of Sun earlier this year. Analysts were expecting $7.27 billion, on average. GAAP revenue increased 48 percent to $7.5 billion.

"Our software business grew strongly in all regions," Catz said in a statement. "Our hardware business also grew faster than we expected with Sun Solaris servers and Exadata leading the way."

Oracle's shares were up more than 4 percent at $26.46 after closing at $25.36 on Nasdaq.

Hurd was named co-president of Oracle on September 6, replacing Charles Phillips, to work alongside Catz. Shares of Oracle have gained nearly 11 percent since his appointment was made public. (link.reuters.com/gyq24p)

HP has sued Hurd to stop him from working for Oracle, fearing he will spill its trade secrets.

"We want to grow and we want to grow profitably. We want to take share," Hurd told analysts.

Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison said: "We look at IBM (IBM.N) as our No. 1 competitor." He made no mention of rival HP, which is in search of a new leader.

He added that his company would unveil a slew of new and updated products, some aimed at business software rival SAP AG (SAPG.DE), at Oracle's annual customer conference in San Francisco next week.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Additional reporting by Liana Baker and Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Richard Chang)

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