PARIS - SAP AG, the world's biggest maker of business software, sees signs of an improvement in the sector and is sticking to its 2009 operating margin goal, Chief Executive Leo Apotheker said on Wednesday.
But Apotheker said at a media event in Paris it was too early to say there was evidence of a real upturn.
The market situation today is not as bad as it was a few months ago. Can we talk of a recovery? It is too early to say, he said.
Asked if he still banked on an upturn in 2010, Apotheker told reporters: I think that, provided there is no further major shock, one would expect things to be a little better in 2010 than 2009.
Apotheker separately told Reuters Television SAP had no plans for a rights issue, while its job cuts programme was progressing and would be completed sooner than planned.
Apotheker was speaking to reporters after SAP unveiled a three-year partnership with French non-profit organisation PlatNet Finance, the first initiative of which aims to help farmers in northern Ghana.
SAP, whose closest rival is U.S. company Oracle Corp, has previously said it expected to reach a 2009 operating margin, excluding one-off items, of between 24.5 percent and 25.5 percent at constant currencies.
SAP, based in Walldorf in southwest Germany, has given no target for its key software and software-related sales this year. But it reiterated in April it based its margin forecasts on the assumption that core sales would be flat or 1 percent lower than 2008 sales of 8.6 billion euros ($12 billion).
SAP, which took on its largest acquisition ever when it bought BusinessObjects in 2007, would not comment on Wednesday on future acquisition plans.
Earlier this month, Apotheker told French daily Le Figaro SAP would continue to make acquisitions and could spend 5 billion euros on deals.
Apotheker also told Reuters TV the future of SAP as an independent company was bright.
Rumours periodically surface that either IBM or Microsoft Corp might acquire SAP, which sells business management applications to large corporations which neither of those technology groups have in their portfolios.
SAP implemented cost cuts in October after a sharp drop in sales and said in January it would continue to slash costs as it reduces its workforce to 48,500 by the end of this year from 51,800 at the time.
Apotheker told Reuters Insider TV the job cut programme would be done sooner than planned. (Editing by David Holmes) ($1=.7200 Euro)