Oracle CEO Sees Dividends Rising, Shuns Big Acquisitions

Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison said in an interview with CNBC that he’ll use the company’s cash to boost dividends gradually over time, rather than to make big acquisitions.

Ellison, speaking at the Oracle’s OpenWorld conference, said today that he’s focused on growing its cloud computing products that deliver software and computing services over the Internet. The company has spent more than $50 billion on more than 80 deals, mainly to add business programs that manage corporate finances and operations. It had $31.6 billion in cash at the end of the fiscal first quarter.

“We could do a big deal again down the road,” Ellison said in an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo. “Over the next couple of years, senior management down to individual programmers and sales people are focused on one thing: selling applications in the cloud, selling our platform in the cloud and selling our infrastructure in the cloud.”

Ellison unveiled this week a high-end server with more memory and the first update of its flagship database in five years. He’s betting those new products and a shift to cloud services will boost sales. Oracle’s share price has underperformed SAP AG and Inc., its rivals in providing cloud computing for businesses.

Oracle’s cloud computing software can save customers time and money because of its strengths in many facets of the software market, Ellison said.

Platform Software

“You have to consider not only the application you’re buying but also the platform on which it rests,” Ellison said in an address at the conference. “You still have to hook up that application to other applications.”

Oracle is competing in the business-applications market by touting its advantage in platform software -- its market-leading database and middleware built with the widely used Java programming language. Ellison argued that buying from one supplier for all of that software can save customers the work of stitching together software from Salesforce and Workday Inc. with systems they already run.

“Just because it’s in the cloud doesn’t mean we never do anything technical again,” Ellison said.

Shares of Redwood City, California-based Oracle declined less than 1 percent to $31.65 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 23 percent this year, compared with a 21 percent increase in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Information Technology Sector Index.

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