Oracle shares leaped nearly 7 percent Wednesday after the database giant assuaged investor fears that lagging hardware sales might slow it down. The company reported first-quarter earnings that exceeded analyst expectations.
Shares of the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based software giant were at $30.23, up about 6.7 percent, in early trading.
CEO Larry Ellison Tuesday night assured analysts the company was on target for higher sales. Additionally, he said Oracle's roll-out of new advanced servers would turbocharge future hardware sales.
We have no intention of selling systems that do not include our IP, Ellison said on an investor call. That's how we're going to drive the profitability of our overall hardware business.
Oracle got into selling servers via its $7.3B acquisition of Sun Microsystems, the pioneering workstation maker. Besides acquiring its Java open-source programming language, Oracle also gained its design technology for its SPARC microprocessors, which offer superfast computation.
Oracle plans to start shipping a series of new products using SPARC technology, gradually selling more high-end servers with its own IP, Ellison and co-presidents Safra Catz and Mark Hurd said.
Still, Catz estimated second quarter new software license sales would range between 6 and 16 percent. Analysts, including Ross MacMillan of Jefferies, said while that was low, the guidance was satisfactory.
The company also plans to keep offering systems that handle so-called unstructured data, which users can analyze to make decisions. In early 2010, for example, IBM plans to introduce its Watson supercomputer for similar commercial use at WellPoint, the Indianapolis-based health-care chain.
Oracle reported first quarter net income jumped 36 percent to $1.8 billion, exceeding analyst estimates, as revenue rose a more modest 12 percent to $8.4 billion.
Oracle's per-share earnings, including special items, were earnings of 48 cents, compared with 44 cents, according to Zacks. Both revenue and earnings gains were the smallest since 2009.
While the software giant reported new software license sales increased 17 percent, sales of computer servers dipped 5 percent. Those would be servers under the old Sun Microsystems label.
In that way, Oracle's easing server sales somewhat resembles rival Hewlett-Packard, which last month reported industry standard server sales plummeted 21 percent.
HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., has decided to spin off its PC segment to focus more on services and also is seeking to acquire Britain's Autonomy for $10.3 billion, 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.
Oracle shares are 17 percent below their 52-week high of $36.5. That gives the software giant a market capitalization of $152.9 billion and enterprise value of $130.7 billion.
Oracle's cash and securities pile swelled to $31.7 billion from 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 Wednesday, 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 around $100 million. U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered the joint CEO appearance before the magistrate to see if they can't hammer out an in-court deal.
When Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, 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 Andoid dominates the OS sector for smartphones with a greater than 50 percent share, with the largest remaining share held by Apple.