FBR Capital Markets attended Oracle Corp.'s financial analyst meeting and its annual user conference OpenWorld this week.
Oracle is clearly focused on driving organic growth, with particular emphasis on scaling out its engineered systems and on the new Fusion application suite, said David Hilal, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.
Despite concerns about a slowing economy, management expects to continue hiring, particularly in sales, as it feels there is ample opportunity to sell more of its products into the installed base.
As this strategy is executed, coupled with more leverage realized from the Sun acquisition, management believes it can continue to expand operating margins and surpass its historical high of 46 percent, which is quite impressive given that today there is a whole hardware company embedded in the overall company.
Regarding growing concerns about the macro environment, Hilal's conversations with customers and partners suggest spending remains fine, and it sounds like that could persist through calendar year-end thanks to the seasonal budget flush.
However, management was less committal about 2012, and that's where he suspects IT spending weakness could emerge.
Hilal said Oracle is in an advantageous position by tuning its software and hardware to optimally run together. After early success with Exadata and Exalogic, the company furthered its strategy this week with new product announcements for Exalytics, Big Data Appliance, and Database Appliance.
After about a year in a controlled rollout phase, Oracle is ready to fully launch Fusion apps into its massive distribution machine. The company has worked with about 200 early adopters (Boeing, Alcoa, Charles Schwab, Elizabeth Arden) during the first year to ensure product readiness.
Fusion covers seven product areas and has over 100 products. Hilal believes Fusion will be a multi-year, not a multi-quarter, product cycle. One of the most attractive features is the ability to run Fusion in the cloud or behind the firewall. Because the same code base is used for both, customers will have the flexibility to easily migrate from one to another as their needs/desires change.
Oracle announced its Public Cloud, which is a turnkey cloud service. The big differentiator here is that Oracle provides the infrastructure AND the software.
He believes this is going to be an attractive offering given the proven underlying assets such as the Oracle database and WebLogic server. He doesn't expect this to directly move the needle in the near term, but he does believe this will be a valuable incubator for future larger customers.
We maintain our Outperform rating with a price target of $38, as we believe Oracle's engineered systems strategy, coupled with Fusion Applications, should allow the company to take market share from its rivals, said Hilal.
And, in a worsening IT spending environment, he believes Oracle's large recurring revenue base and new product cycles will help the company outperform its peers.
Oracle stock is trading down 0.20 percent at $29.95 on the NASDAQ Stock Market at 9:58 am EDT.