Oracle Falls Most in a Year After Tepid Outlook for Growth

Oracle Corp. shares fell the most in almost a year Thursday after the company reported sales growth and gave an outlook for the current period that fell short of some projections.

The world’s second-largest software maker said revenue increased 3% in the fiscal third quarter. On a constant currency basis, sales were flat, missing the company’s projections. The revenue forecast for the current period indicates a faster pace of growth isn’t on the way, said Anurag Rana, an analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence.

“I think investors may be disappointed by guidance of 1%-3% sales growth in constant currency next quarter, which is a slight improvement to the current quarter, but not substantial,” he said. “While cloud wins from SAP were impressive, total revenue is not accelerating at a material pace.”

Executive Chairman Larry Ellison and Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz have been trying to boost sales by turning to cloud-based software for services. Oracle said sales of its Fusion application for managing corporate finances climbed 30% in the period -- a slower growth rate than the 33% reported in the fiscal second quarter. Revenue from NetSuite’s financial software, targeted to small- and mid-sized businesses, rose 24%, after a 21% gain in the previous period.

The shares fell as much as 9.3% to $65.43 in New York, bringing gains for this year to 2.7%.

Ellison devoted much of a conference call after the results were announced to an attack on rival SAP SE, listing companies that have totally or partly switched to Oracle from the German software company’s products. He tallied more than 100 SAP customers who’ve made the move and said there are more. Oracle’s emphasis on new software and cloud services hasn’t yet spurred the kind of revenue increase anticipated by investors, who sent shares up 30% over the past month to a near record of $72.12 at Wednesday’s close.

Small and medium-sized businesses and companies in industries most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic have restarted spending, according to a note from analysts at Cowen & Co., citing interviews with corporate sources. Still, Oracle was late to cloud computing and its services that compete with Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. lag behind in market share.

“The enterprise software market is doing well,” Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Co., which owns Oracle shares, said before the results were released. “But it’s all about the cloud for Oracle. It’s about making that migration and Larry was really late doing that.”

In the period ending in May, Oracle said profit, excluding some items, would be $1.28 to $1.32 a share. Analysts, on average, estimated $1.28, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue will increase 5% to 7% in U.S. dollars, which would top analysts’ projections for 4% growth. Minus help from currency fluctuations, the sales increase will be 1% to 3%, Oracle said.

In the fiscal third quarter, which ended Feb. 28, sales climbed to $10.1 billion, the Redwood Shores, California-based company said in a statement. The reported revenue met the average of analyst estimates. Profit, excluding some items, was $1.16 a share. Analysts projected $1.11.

The results marked the third straight quarter of year-over-year revenue growth after two consecutive fiscal years of declining sales.

Revenue from cloud services and license support increased 5% to $7.25 billion, narrowly falling short of analysts’ estimates. That metric includes sales from hosting customers’ data in the cloud, but a large portion is generated by maintenance fees for traditional software kept on clients’ corporate servers.

Cloud license and on-premise license sales rose 4% to $1.28 billion. Analysts had expected $1.21 billion.

Oracle also announced its board approved a $20 billion increase in share repurchases.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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