SAP: Solid fourth quarter earnings; TomorrowNow saps profits

SAP's fourth quarter profit was hurt by a hefty payment to Oracle over the TomorrowNow lawsuit, but the software company's operations showed improvement.

SAP's fourth quarter profit was hurt by a hefty payment to Oracle over the TomorrowNow lawsuit, but the software company's operations showed improvement.

The enterprise applications giant reported fourth quarter earnings of €437 million on revenue of €4.06 billion, up 27 percent from a year ago. The company delivered software revenue of €1.51 billion, up 35 percent from a year ago. Software and software-related service revenue was €3.27 billion, up 27 percent. For 2010, SAP reported earnings of €1.82 billion on revenue of €12.46 billion.

However, those results were obscured by a €933 million reserve after Oracle won $1.3 billion in damages in the TomorrowNow trial. Oracle sued SAP over TomorrowNow, a third party maintenance unit, for intellectual property theft. SAP said that intends to file post-trial motions to lower the damage award to Oracle. The company added that it may file an appeal.

Specifically, here's what SAP said about the TomorrowNow charge:

SAP has great respect for the US legal system and Court decisions. However, SAP believes that the amount awarded by the jury in Oracle v. SAP/TomorrowNow is disproportionate and wrong. After the Court has entered final judgment SAP intends to file post-trial motions in the coming weeks asking the Court to reduce the amount of damages awarded, or to order a new trial. Depending on the outcome of the post-trial motion process, SAP may consider an appeal. Because the motions have not yet been filed and the outcome of the motions remains uncertain the amount by which the jury award would be reduced cannot be reliably measured at this time. Therefore, SAP has based the provision on the jury award.

SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott was focused on the future. McDermott said SAP "showed rock solid revenue across the globe" and saw gains in key verticals and emerging markets. Jim Hagemann Snabe, co-CEO, said that SAP plans to reach 1 billion users by 2015.

As for the outlook, SAP said it expects 2011 software and software related service revenue to grow 10 percent to 14 percent. Operating profit for 2011 will be €4.45 billion to €4.65 billion.

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