Oracle Corp. (ORCL), the world’s largest maker of database software, rose the most in more than four months after fiscal fourth-quarter profit topped analysts’ estimates, buoyed by sales of new software licenses.
Earnings excluding certain costs were $4.1 billion, or 82 cents a share, the Redwood City, California-based company said in a statement yesterday. That beat the 79-cent average estimate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison said Oracle won three cloud-computing deals against competitor Workday Inc. during the period ending in May, and also sold a high-end hardware system to Facebook Inc. Software license sales, an indicator of future revenue, rose 6.7 percent to $4 billion.
“Oracle’s earnings announcement indicates strong execution by the company in a tough environment,” said Abhey Lamba, an analyst at Mizuho Securities in New York, in a note to clients.
The company is looking for growth from sales of cloud- computing applications for human resources and customer management that businesses can access over the Internet instead of installing on internal servers. It’s also selling more licenses of its business applications that companies install on their own machines. License sales are important because they lead to future revenue streams from contracts customers sign to support the software.
“Software had a fantastic quarter on multiple fronts,” Ellison said on a conference call with investors.
The company’s board authorized adding $10 billion to Oracle’s stock buyback program. The shares rose 3.1 percent to $27.96 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since Feb. 16. The stock has climbed 9 percent this year.
“They’re doing a great job, especially considering what they were up against in the final weeks of May,” when the debt crisis in Europe hampered business spending there, Brad Zelnick, an analyst at Macquarie Capital USA Inc. in New York, said in an interview. “They’re outpacing the growth of the overall industry.”
Profit in the period ending in August will be 51 cents to 55 cents a share, Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz said on the conference call. That compared with analysts’ average estimate of 53 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue will range from a 2 percent decline to a 1 percent increase from a year earlier, she said.
New software license sales will range from unchanged from a year earlier to a 10 percent increase, Catz said.
Fourth-quarter revenue increased 1.3 percent to $10.9 billion, matching estimates. Revenue from new database licenses, which accounted for two-thirds of Oracle’s license sales, was unchanged in the fourth quarter. Sales of new applications licenses rose 23 percent.
Sales of computer hardware and associated technical support services fell 14 percent to $1.6 billion as Oracle pares less expensive servers and storage computers gained in the Sun acquisition from its lineup.
Net income in the quarter was $3.45 billion, or 69 cents a share, compared with $3.21 billion, or 62 cents, a year earlier.
Oracle moved its earnings report, originally scheduled for June 21, ahead by three days. Keith Block, Oracle’s executive vice president in charge of North American sales, has left the company, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the matter is private.
Joanne Olsen, an Oracle senior vice president in charge of cloud computing software sales, is taking on additional responsibility, Hurd said on the conference call.
“It’s a testament to cloud-computing being elevated to a new level of importance,” said Zelnick.
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