Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Oracle Beats Q2 Earnings Forecasts

Oracle’s earnings are in. Both revenue and profits beat the expectations of analysts.

Sales were $8.6 billion, helped mostly by new software license sales that grew 21 percent to $2 billion, while updates and product support revenue grew 12 percent to $3.7 billion. The consensus estimate was $8.34 billion. Sales grew 47 percent from the same period a year ago.

Non-GAAP per-share earnings were 51 cents, beating the 46-cent forecast estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. Earnings after one-time items were 37 cents, up from 29 cents a year ago.

Gross margins on Sun-branded hardware increased to 53 percent.

Shares are up almost 4 percent in after-hours trading.

There’s a quote from CEO Larry Ellison, reminding us how fast his new products are, and digging once again at the competition:

“Sun’s new SPARC Supercluster computer shattered the world record for database transaction processing performance by running 3 times faster than IBM’s fastest computer, and a stunning 7.5 times faster than HP’s best ever database performance,” said Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison. “Our new generation of Exadata, Exalogic and SPARC Supercluster computers deliver much better performance and much lower cost than the fastest machines from IBM and HP.”

Here’s another quote, from Oracle co-President (and former HP CEO) Mark Hurd, about the Exadata product line:

“Since joining Oracle I’ve met with and visited many customers that have expressed a high level of enthusiasm around our strategy of engineering hardware and software that works together,” said Oracle President, Mark Hurd. “That enthusiasm translates into an Exadata pipeline that has now grown to nearly $2 billion. That number is a good leading indicator that customers are planning to increase their investment in Oracle technology.”

Yes I would say there’s enthusiasm. It was precisely because of the Exadata line that Macquarie Research upgraded Oracle today.

More from the conference call, which starts at 5 pm ET.

4:53 pm: Seven minutes to go before the Oracle earnings conference call starts. Right now it’s all mellow classical guitar.

Call is running a little late.

5:10 pm: And we’re underway with the safe-harbor statement.

Ellison, Hurd and president Safra Catz are on the call.

Americas grew 32 percent in U.S. dollars.

5:15 pm: Balance sheet: $24.8 billion in cash and short-term investments.

Generated $3.7 billion in free cash flow.

5:15 pm: Safra Catz is now speaking. We exceeded the high point of license guidance. Even excluding a payment for legal fees, we beat guidance by 4 cents.

5:16 pm: All geographies reported double-digit growth.

5:16 pm: “We continue to take share from SAP.”

5:17 pm: With Sun, included operating margins were 44 percent, which is better than SAP. [Another dig.]

5:18 pm: Hardware guidance: $1.1 to $1.2 billion in revenues.

Non-GAAP EPS expected to be 48 to 50 cents, and 34 to 36 cents on a GAAP basis.

Here’s Larry:

5:19 pm: Our goal is to be No. 1 in high-end market for servers. Right now our numbers are behind HP and IBM.

5:20 pm: IBM’s and HP’s servers are slow, and software is slow and expensive and have no software value-add. [Another dig at the competitors.]

5:22 pm: Exadata pipeline continus to grow. We expect our new generation of Sun machines will enable us to win significant share, and position us in the No. 2 position behind IBM very soon. And then we’ll fight it out for No. 1.

5:23 pm: Now Mark Hurd is speaking.

5:23 pm: I want to focus on our opportunities to grow significantly.

5:24 pm: Deal volume was spread across companies of all sizes and strength in the public sector as well.

5:24 pm: All of our customers and competitors are reacting to us.

5:25 pm: 150,000 Middleware customers. We ended the quarter with a record hardware backlog.

5:26 pm: Now going to Q&A:

A question from UBS. Are you starting to see a halo impact on adoption of the Oracle suite?

Larry: Close rates are improving. You’ll see great improvement in Exadata sales from Q2 to Q3. Because it’s new, people were running a lot of benchmarks and trying it out first. We’ll sell a lot more Exadata in Q3 than in Q2.

As for the halo effect, when you buy these servers you buy them to run specific software. Engineer them at the same time and make sure they run well together. We have a huge advantage over IBM and HP. The notion of systems, hardware and software that run well together will dominate the high end of the business.

Q: You clearly have a lot of irons in the fire with Fusion apps coming up and Exadata. Focus on Exalogic. Can you share early feedback from customers and compare that to Exadata ramp.

Mark: Exadata experience benefits Exalogic. We’ve matured the use case, we think we know where the targets are. The Exadata experience is a big deal for us.

5:31 pm: A question about Fusion Middleware.

Larry: We’ve been in the middleware business for a long time. With release 11 everything has been rewritten. It’s a much better user experience, you can patch our entire suite with a single file. We think the fact that we have an integrated suite gives us a huge advantage over IBM.

5:33 pm: A question about Europe. It was better than expected. Apps business was really strong. Look at competitors. You’ve been gaining share against SAP. We are seeing a pickup in general environment.

Hurd: I’m not an economist, but we’re doing well in Europe. It was broad-based. It was not singular to a deal or country. It was broad-based to countries where we have been gaining share. It’s been one quarter after another, a pretty steady beat.

Larry: We had a wonderful set of industry specific applications, in telecommunications and banking and retail, and that’s unique vis-a-vis SAP. that has helped us a lot to establish us in a lot of industries. Also Fusion is right around the corner.

5:35 pm: Q: How frequently is an Exadata deployment resulting in the displacement of a competitor’s product?

Hurd: About 70 to 75 percent of the time. About 20 to 25 percent of the time it’s a consolidation.

We’ve sold Exadata now in 50 countries, and 30 to 35 percent of our customers have made a second purchase. You’re starting to see repeat purchases. We’ve learned a lot about this and so as we launch Exalogic we can accelerate our learnings.

5:36 pm: Q: Margin was also great. What can we expect going forward and what were one-time items?

Catz: In general, it’s the business. The only nonrepeatable thing is the $120 million legal settlement, which we will not repeat. Hardware margins and operating margins, this is something we’ve done for many years.

5:38 pm: Q: What is visibility for database licenses?

Larry: A couple quarters ago, someone noticed database licenses were growing nicely. We think Exadata is going to be a nice turbocharge to our database business. Across the board our database business is going to get strong with Exadata.

I just looked at after-hours trading in Oracle shares and they’re up more than 4.5 percent.

Hurd: “The secret to Exadata is bringing the smarts to the data, versus bringing the data to the smarts.”

5:42 pm: Q: What continues to drive the database business? Is it just core database, add-ons?

Larry: We think our technology is getting faster and more reliable at a faster rate than that of our competitors.

5:43 pm Larry: As far as applications, we think there are lots of reasons we continue to gain share every quarter over the last few years over SAP.

It’s the industry-specific applications. We have telecom companies that are running only Oracle software. We have some banks that are making the same kind of commitments up and down the stack. SAP just doesn’t have that.

5:44 pm: Larry: We’ve got this extremely modern Java-based suite called Fusion that is going to strengthen our competitive stance against and against Workday.

5:46 pm: That seems to be it. The call is concluded.

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