Friday, September 17, 2010

Oracle profit beats Street forecasts

SEATTLE: Oracle Corp said on Thursday, Sept 16 fiscal first-quarter profit rose 20 percent, beating expectations, on strong sales of new software and growth of its new hardware business.

The strong results bucked the trend of recent pessimism among tech companies about the economic recovery, and investors sent Oracle shares up 4 percent in after-hours trading.

"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.

"The broader tech sector is showing that though the economy is struggling, TECHNOLOGY [] is probably going to be a bit more resistant to the economic downturn as companies look to become more efficient with fewer employees."

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.

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 they would rise between 2 percent and 12 percent.

"Our software business grew strongly in all regions," Oracle President Safra 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 4 percent at $26.40 after closing at $25.36 on Nasdaq.

The company is expected to make a forecast on sales of new software for the current quarter on a conference call later on Thursday.

Chief Executive Larry Ellison and new President Mark Hurd -- the former Hewlett-Packard Co CEO who joined Oracle earlier this month -- are expected to talk to investors on that call. - Reuters

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