Can Oracle succeed in hardware?

Summary:Oracle will report its fourth-quarter earnings on 21 June, with worries continuing about whether the company can bolster its hardware business.

Oracle will report its fourth-quarter earnings on 21 June, with worries continuing about whether the company can bolster its hardware business.

The company is expected to report fourth-quarter earnings of 78 US cents per share on revenue of US$10.9 billion. Wall Street analysts, however, project a mixed quarter ahead. Based on channel checks from analysts, Oracle's hardware sales were weak, while software was mixed, but in line with expectations.

Wall Street's handwringing comes a week after Oracle rolled out its master cloud-services plan.

Jefferies analyst Ross MacMillan said that Oracle is seeing the effects of conservative IT spending. MacMillan said:

Our most recent field work suggests F4Q12 business trends were mixed, with licence likely in line while hardware again sounded weak. The deal activity that we heard of was mostly transactional, but we did catch wind of one very large transaction (around US$50 million) ... any of the partners we spoke with commented that business continues to be impacted by customers' conservative IT spending behaviour. From our conversations with EMEA-based partners we think that business likely slowed somewhat in Europe, as macro factors impacted close rates.

The wild card for these Oracle prognostications is that the company's direct sales force is taking more deals from its partners. That reality may mean that Oracle's results handily outrun any partner pessimism. Oracle's first-quarter outlook should be solid, given that the company will get a revenue boost from recent acquisitions like Endeca, Taleo and RightNow.

Barclays analyst Raimo Lenschow said that Oracle's risks are largely balanced, but the company is facing economic concerns, as well as a headwind from a strong US dollar.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt was more positive. He noted that almost 80 per cent of Oracle's operating income comes from existing customers. That means that new product cycles — Fusion, Exalytics, Exadata — can fuel better-than-expected gains.

Holt said:

Given a significant recurring revenue stream coming from software and hardware support, as well as its existing OnDemand business, we can ascribe value to the company's highly visible recurring installed base, which represents nearly 80 per cent of the company's operating income. We value the current recurring revenue base in Oracle at US$22.43 per share — which, along with US$3 per share in net cash, represents less than 95 per cent of the current trading price.

Via ZDNet US

Topics: Oracle, Hardware

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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