|By Maureen O'Gara||
|March 23, 2012 10:15 AM EDT||
Oracle, which suffered a dodgy Q2, called that rare earnings miss and soft software showing an "aberration" when it reported its Q3 numbers Tuesday.
The company came in with stronger-than-expected income, up 18% to $2.5 billion, or 49 cents a share - 62 cents in Wall Street's language - against a tough compare, because good old fashioned software license sales neutralized weak hardware sales from its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems.
Lately Oracle has preferred cloud buys like RightNow and Taleo.
Oracle's revenues were up 3.1% to $9 billion, again ahead of expectations.
Its operating margin widened from 34.1% to 36.7%.
New license revenue, the great growth indicator, was up 7.2% to $2.4 billion, the high end of its guidance. Total software sales were up 7.9% although it's between cycles and moving customers to its new Fusion software and the newfangled multi-tenant or on-premise Oracle Secure Cloud, which is supposed to be winning adherents
Its cloud offering includes Fusion CRM, HRM and financial programs. It's supposed to beat out Salesforce.com, which only has a public cloud.
Product support was up 8%.
Hardware revenues, on the other hand, dropped a nasty 16% to $869 million, a point more than Oracle thought they would, which it blamed on the lower-margin commodity servers and the storage it inherited from Sun. It swears hardware will turn into a "growth story" by its next fiscal year if not sooner.
Oracle is supposed to have a billion-dollar hardware run rate and a solid pipeline.
Oracle co-president and HP refugee Mark Hurd said the company's Exadata line, hardware designed to run the Oracle database, doubled year-over-year. Collectively its so-called "engineered" hardware products, like its Big Data-directed Exalytics In-Memory analytics machine, which reportedly has little competition, were up 139% and are now being copied by such companies as IBM.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison trashed SAP's Hana response. Hurd claimed Oracle couldn't find any buyers of the SAP widgetry and it sent all its boys out to look.
Oracle guided to 73 cents-83 cents this quarter, ahead of estimates, and revenue up 1%-5% from Q3. Figure around $11.18 billion. It said new software sales could increase anywhere from 0%-10% year-over-year. It's expecting to post a "historic" pre-Sun operating margin by way of its integrated hardware and software.
Oracle said its result weren't dependent on any big deals. It has added another thousand sales and pre-sales staff in Q3 - supposedly all plums - after adding 1,700 in Q2 without adding to expenses. Hurd said there was a "lot of gas in the tank to drive organic growth."
Oracle's got a comfortable $30 billion in the bank after paying for all its acquisitions and buying back 59 million shares recently.
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