Database giant Oracle is scheduled to announce first-quarter results Tuesday -- and if it maintains the recent pattern, the company will likely beat analyst estimates of 44 cents a share carried by Zacks.
That would be a gain of nearly 13 percent above 2010. Revenue is expected to jump about 8.5 percent to $8.36 billion for the quarter. That would be just the latest in a series of gains for the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based leader in database and analytical software. A year ago, Oracle reported earnings of $1.35 billion, or 27 cents, on revenue of $7.5 billion.
Strategically, another Oracle earnings blowout would be another bragging point for founding CEO Larry Ellison, especially at a time when rival Hewlett-Packard has reported lower-than-expected growth. HP also announced a $10.3 billion bid to acquire Britain's Autonomy, to better compete against Oracle, IBM and German arch-rival SAP.
Indeed, former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker is now HP CEO, while former HP CEO Mark Hurd is now one of two Oracle presidents.
Despite the bullish earnings outlook, Oracle shares are 20 percent below their 52-week high of $36.50, closing Monday at $29.02. That gives the software giant a market capitalization of $146.9 billion and enterprise value of $135.4 billion.
Another point to watch for: Oracle's cash and securities pile, which was nearly $29 billion in the fourth quarter. That, as well as the shares, could be useful for a company that has bought scores of companies over the years, including Sun Microsystems, Retek, Siebel Systems and PeopleSoft.
Ellison was ordered to appear before a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, along with Google CEO Larry Page, over Oracle's 13-month-old lawsuit charging patent infringement. Oracle has accused Google with using patents for Java software, which came with the Sun acquisition, to bolster its Android OS.
Oracle's lawsuit alleged damages as high as $6.1 billion, while Google countered with an offer to pay royalties on;y around $100 million. U.S. District Judge William Alsupp ordered the joint CEO appearance before the magistrate to see if they can't hammer out an in-court deal.
Oracle paid $7.3 billion for Sun. Ellison claimed he could collect more from Java royalties but also needs to ensure that Google succeeds with Android so as to collect the maximum royalty fees.
Market researchers IHSiSuppli and others say Android dominates the OS sector for smartphones with a greater than 50 percent share, with the largest remaining share held by Apple.