* Q4 revenue 5.06 bln euros vs 5.17 bln avg consensus
* Op margin narrows 0.8 pct points to 38.8 pct
* Figures contrast with those of top rival Oracle
* Shares drop 3.8 pct, hit two-month low
(Adds detail, background, updates shares)
By Harro Ten Wolde
FRANKFURT, Jan 15 Quarterly earnings from SAP AG
fell short of expectations on Tuesday, showing the
German business software maker failed to keep up with arch-rival
Oracle Corp and sending its shares sharply lower.
SAP's results, released more than a week before they had
been scheduled, showed group revenue rose 12 percent to 5.06
billion euros ($6.8 billion), below an average analyst forecast
of 5.17 billion, according to Reuters data.
Operating profit rose more slowly than revenue, gaining 10
percent to 1.96 billion euros, resulting in SAP's operating
margin narrowing by 0.8 percentage points to 38.8 percent in the
three months through December.
The figures contrasted with those of Oracle, the world's No.
3 software maker and SAP's biggest competitor, which last month
forecast strong sales for 2013 after posting a 17 percent jump
in quarterly software revenue.
SAP shares were down 3.8 percent and were the biggest
decliners in a 2 percent weaker sector index by 1500
GMT. The stock fell as low as 57.77 euros, its lowest in two
"Especially after their main competitor Oracle managed to
beat estimates last month, many had hoped that SAP would follow
suit," said Markus Huber, head of German trading at ETX Capital.
"Even by missing estimates by a very small margin, and
despite having had an overall excellent 2012, investors are
venting their disappointment by dumping the stock heavily,"
SAP said its operating profit was affected by investments in
web-based software products, also known as "cloud" businesses.
The Walldorf, southern Germany-based company, along with
peers such as IBM and Oracle, are betting on
faster-growing, web-based software products, which are less
vulnerable to the economic downturn as there are no upfront
costs for programme licenses, dedicated hardware or
SAP last year splashed out $7.7 billion to buy
internet-based computing companies Ariba and SuccessFactors.
The web-based services garnered just 342 million euros in
2012 revenues, a fraction of the total 16.3 billion.
With a market capitalisation of $100 billion, SAP is the
second-most valuable company in the German blue chip index
behind Volkswagen, which is worth $105
billion, according to Reuters data.
SAP is due to publish full financial results and a full-year
outlook on Jan. 23. Some analysts fear the 2013 outlook could
"Guidance could be slightly below current consensus and
expectations may be revised lower," Barclays analyst Gerardus
Vos said in a note.
SAP's full-year operating profit at constant currencies
reached 5.02 billion euros, missing its own guidance for at
least 5.05 billion euros.
($1 = 0.7482 euros)
(Additional reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by David