Oracle Earnings Soar

Robust software sales pushed Oracle's second-quarter net income up 35 percent compared to the same period last year, to US$1.3 billion, or $0.25 per share, the company said Wednesday.

Total revenue grew by 28 percent to $5.3 billion, Oracle said.

Excluding one-time charges, Oracle's reported earnings per share were $0.31, beating forecasts of $0.27 per share from analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Oracle logged major gains in new license revenue for applications, which rose by 63 percent, and for database and middleware products, which saw a 28 percent increase. The company saw services-based revenue grow by 22 percent to $1.2 billion over last year.

"Obviously, we had another great quarter," Oracle's president and CFO, Safra Catz, said during a conference call with analysts on Wednesday. The numbers represent Oracle's "fastest growth rate in more than a decade," according to Catz.

She noted that Oracle thrived even amid the widespread financial turmoil that has resulted from the subprime mortgage meltdown, an outcome she chalked up to the company's "broad, highly diversified customer base, both by industry and geographically."

CEO Larry Ellison added that Oracle is finding new business by targeting vertical industries that may not be using packaged software like the kind Oracle sells. "Some of these verticals are almost green fields in terms of modern software," he said.

The company's president, Charles Phillips, echoed Ellison. "We think we're very early on in this strategy," he said. "We're still selling in the verticals who are building applications. We're trying to convince them to buy packaged applications."

The executives also honed in on Oracle's competitors, chiefly SAP, which is now targeting small- and medium-sized companies with its Business ByDesign on-demand ERP software.

"We've elected not to go into the [SMB] market because we don't see any synergy," Ellison said.

Phillips said Oracle has managed to snare business from a string of SAP customers this year, crediting in part the business intelligence software that Oracle gained through its acquisition of Hyperion Solutions. "That's a product that's been key for getting into many, many SAP accounts," he said.

Talk turned at one point to Oracle's unsuccessful bid this year to buy BEA Systems for $6.7 billion. BEA's board of directors rejected Oracle's offer, deeming it too low.

Catz indicated that Oracle believes a deal can't be made at this time. "We've been out there with our offer and it just doesn't seem like that is possible with that board," she said.

Talk at one point also turned to Oracle's 11g database, which the company launched to much fanfare earlier this year. "I think our database business will continue to grow in double digits. If the world database market is growing in single digits, we should certainly grow faster than the market," Ellison said.

Shares of the company's stock were up about 6.5 percent to $22.11 on the earnings news in after-hours trading.

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