Oracle Had a Rough Quarter

Oracle reported its earnings for its second financial quarter, which ended November 30th. One of the big headlines: the company's total hardware revenues crashed below $1 billion to $953 million, down 14% year over year. Its software business was essentially flat on a revenue basis.

Oracle started shipping its new SPARC T4-based machines in late September. We would expect to see a substantial increase in revenue when a new model is introduced, but the opposite happened. Oracle's CFO explained that there were product transition problems which accounted for the drop. Perhaps, but Oracle is predicting that next quarter hardware revenues will drop again from 4% to 14% (constant currency). Keep in mind these figures include Exadata and Exalogic servers, which Oracle claims are growing. (CEO Larry Ellison said Oracle sold "over 200" of those servers combined in the quarter. More on that in a moment.) The bleeding continues unabated.

Another thing Oracle's CFO said should be disturbing to potential customers: "...we believe we could be back at pre-Sun operating margins shortly." If your revenues are declining, how do you increase operating margins? That's simple: you cut costs. Research and development are costs, and they should be big costs if you want to compete and win in the server market.

On the software side, Oracle has had some price increases, so a flattish performance there is also a problem.

Richard Sherlund, an analyst from Nomura Securities, asked a great question on Oracle's earnings conference call. In fact, Oracle promptly ended its call after his question. Sherlund asked, "Larry [Ellison, Oracle's CEO], could you reconcile these numbers you gave for Exadata and Exalogic? I think it adds up to 1,000 or 1,100. Didn't you say 3,000 just recently? And I think the company originally guided to 2,000." You can read what Oracle's executives said in reply.

In part of Mark Hurd's reply, he claimed "...we are taking huge amounts of share from IBM at their high end." IDC and Gartner keep close tabs on the server market, and they report exactly the opposite is happening. Maybe Hurd misspoke and will revise and extend his remarks.

by Timothy Sipples December 20, 2011 in Financial
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Every business came to this situation. The question is how can they cope and make ways to improve. But, surely they can since data bases are important.

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