​Oracle's moving parts: Here's the Q3 roll call

Oracle's third quarter earnings report will provide a glimpse into whether the company can sustain its cloud momentum.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Oracle reports its fiscal third quarter results and it's unclear whether cloud euphoria can eclipse its potential struggles elsewhere.

The company's second quarter was notable because the results topped low expectations and most analysts hopped on the Oracle cloud bandwagon all at once. Oracle has a similar set up for the third quarter as analysts are worried about currency fluctuations, but upbeat about the company's cloud potential.

Wall Street is looking for third quarter non-GAAP earnings of 68 cents a share on revenue of $9.47 billion. The fourth quarter outlook will also be put under the microscope. Oracle is expected to report earnings of 94 cents a share for its fiscal fourth quarter on revenue of $11.44 billion.

Previously:Oracle updates big data portfolio, aims to be 'visual face of Hadoop' | Briefing: Oracle's cloud strategy and the points to ponder | Oracle woos cloud customers: Time for a kinder, gentler enterprise experience? | Oracle: Winning cloud perception game with IT buyers | Oracle gets its cloud due: Can it sustain it? | Oracle's Larry Ellison talks cloud catch-up game with Salesforce.com

Here's a look at the moving parts:

Oracle's transition to the cloud. In the end, the only thing that matters is how Oracle transitions to the cloud. Oracle's chore: Produce double digit cloud growth and offset soft license revenue. Piece of cake right? Looked that way last quarter. We'll see how that works this go round. Keep in mind that Oracle is going broad with software-, platform- and infrastructure-as-a-service (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS for those keeping acronym score).

Stifel analyst Brad Reback said:

We expect another solid cloud quarter across SaaS and PaaS properties (forecast SaaS/PaaS growth of 27.5% [Street: 27.9%]). We are particularly interested in PaaS momentum given the product announcements from OpenWorld in September (Database Cloud, Java Cloud, etc.) and remind readers (co-CEO Mark Hurd) informally commented to aspirations of 100% SaaS/PaaS bookings growth in 3Q.

In December, Oracle said it expects SaaS and PaaS revenue growth of 30 percent to 34 percent in constant currency with IaaS sales growth of 30 percent to 34 percent.

Database 12c In-Memory Option. The in-memory option of Oracle's latest database isn't expected to boost the fiscal third quarter, but may factor into the fourth quarter outlook and fiscal 2016, according to Credit Suisse analyst Philip Winslow. Winslow said in a research note that Oracle's database license growth under constant currency could move toward 10 percent as in-memory takes off.

Applications. Winslow added that PeopleSoft and JD Edwards will struggle, but the E-Business Suite as well as CXM (customer experience management) tools should do well. Oracle execs are likely to tout Fusion application wins.

Hardware. Few analysts expect Oracle's hardware business to light it up. As usual, Oracle will see decent demand for its engineered systems, but weakness in its UNIX server and storage businesses. Hardware revenue could grow over time, analysts argue. Wedbush analyst Steve Koenig said in a research note:

We are cautious about hardware, as the high-end server hardware market appears to remain pressured by rapid reductions in price/ performance...Sales of Oracle's engineered systems have gotten off to a good start, but the overall hardware market offers flat to negative growth and lower margins than Oracle's software business. Also, engineered system sales may not offset declines in Oracle's commodity hardware business as fast as expected.
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