When the going gets tough, Oracle talks less smack

Analysts are lamenting Oracle's February quarter and the lower than expected new license revenue growth, but the lack of competitor bashing should really have folks worried.Oracle's quarter wasn't bad, but investors are clearly spooked by new license growth of 16 percent, which was at the low end of the company's forecast of 15 percent to 25 percent.

Analysts are lamenting Oracle's February quarter and the lower than expected new license revenue growth, but the lack of competitor bashing should really have folks worried.

Oracle's quarter wasn't bad, but investors are clearly spooked by new license growth of 16 percent, which was at the low end of the company's forecast of 15 percent to 25 percent.

On Oracle's conference call, co-president and CFO Safra Catz said:

On license, we were within our guidance range but customers got a little more cautious at the end of the quarter, given what was going on in the financial markets. Deals are getting done, although they took a bit longer than anticipated in the last few days of the quarter. Interestingly, some of the deals have slipped past the February cut-off already closed in the first few days of March.

That spooked analysts on Thursday. Bear Stearns analyst John DiFucci said:

The shortfall on the top line was entirely due to relatively weak applications license sales, which were even weaker than appears. This may not bode well for other apps stocks, in our opinion.

W.R. Hambrecht analyst Robert Stimson said:

"Management established a more cautious tone regarding the macro-economic environment, which was evidenced by the weakness in applications growth in FQ3:08."

But the real indicator of the environment facing Oracle was the level of smack talk displayed on the conference call. For instance, SAP was only mentioned twice, down from the usual 8 to 12 mentions it normally receives.

Perhaps the smack was toned down because CEO Larry Ellison wasn't in person during the call, but boy the competitor bashing was minimized. Red Hat wasn't mentioned at all. IBM was mentioned twice.

Each time Oracle mentioned a rival it was a customer win, but things were subdued a bit.

Sure the lack of bashing may be because Oracle bought its favorite whipping boy--BEA--but it's likely that the current environment may have taken away some of the company's bluster.