Acquisitions, overseas sales boost Oracle earnings

Oracle said Wednesday that its third-quarter revenues were up 21 percent to US$5.3bn compared to the same quarter last year, defying the widespread malaise in the US economy.

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Oracle said Wednesday that its third-quarter revenues were up 21 percent to US$5.3bn compared to the same quarter last year, defying the widespread malaise in the US economy.

Earnings per share grew 30 percent to $0.26 per share compared to the same quarter in 2007. Net income for the quarter, which ended 28 February, rose 30 percent to $1.3 billion.

Total software revenues grew 21 percent to $4.2 billion, with new licence revenue for databases and middleware up by 20 percent, and for applications by 7 percent. Service revenues rose 21 percent to $1.1 billion over the same period in 2007.

Excluding one-time charges, net income was up 22 percent to $1.6 billion and earnings per share grew 23 percent to $.30, Oracle said.

"I think in the context of the economy we delivered a good quarter," said Oracle's president, Charles Phillips, during a conference call. "We've been through this before and we know how to adjust. It is an [economic] environment that favours large, stable providers."

He and other company executives predicted that Oracle's fortunes would improve in its next earnings report.

"A lot of people have annual buying cycles around our Q4," Phillips said. "Customers think they're going to get a better deal if they wait until Q4."

Oracle has been on a high-dollar buying spree for the past few years, most notably its recent $8.5 billion bid for middleware rival BEA Systems.

Some have suggested that the acquisition strategy would help shield Oracle from revenue losses. In addition, like rival IBM, a significant portion of Oracle's revenue comes from overseas sales, meaning it can weather tough economic conditions stateside and also benefit from the ongoing weakness in the dollar.

Roughly half of the company's Q3 revenues came from outside the US Revenue in the Americas stood at $2.7 billion, with $1.87 billion coming from Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and $771 million in Asia-Pacific.

CEO Larry Ellison said the pending acquisition and subsequent integration of BEA and its product line should go smoothly compared to past integrations.

"It's a shorter process because both BEA and Oracle develop middleware according to industry standards. It's very easy for us to consolidate the products," he said. "The integration of BEA should happen more quickly, both on the selling side and on the development side, than any of our other acquisitions."

The seven percent increase in Oracle's application revenue should be viewed in the proper context, Ellison argued. "We just had a very strong quarter a year ago," he said. That makes the most recent quarter's growth look small by comparison, he said. "We think our Q3 applications business was quite good," Ellison said.

Shares of Oracle fell about $1.81 to $19.13 in after-hours trading.

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