Ellison: Oracle on target for fourth quarter

Squashing rumors that Oracle might miss analysts' earnings targets for its fiscal fourth quarter, its chairman and chief executive officer Wednesday said the company is on cue to meet Wall Street's projected numbers.

Speaking at Oracle's Redwood Shores, California, headquarters for the launch of the latest version of its Oracle9i database, Larry Ellison railed on financial analysts over their recent speculation, calling them "irresponsible."

Some analysts had said in research notes earlier in the week that Oracle may have struggled to close some deals before the quarter ended, which could have cut into its revenue target.

Analysts on average currently expect Oracle to earn US$0.12 per share on revenue of $2.6 billion for its fourth quarter, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. The quarter ended May 31 and Oracle is due to report results June 18.

"Had we not done at least 12 cents in operating income we would have had to warn and we didn't warn," Ellison told reporters. He noted that Oracle is in its "quiet period" and can't comment about its expectations in any detail.

Fielding questions about Oracle's controversial software deal with the State of California, which state auditors have said could cost taxpayers $41 million more than they needed to spend, Ellison called it a "sad situation."

"This deal really is a fabulous deal for the state," he said, adding that under the terms agreed to he had expected California to save roughly $100 million.

The state this week issued a revised audit report, according to an Oracle statement Wednesday, estimating that California will now save more than $10 million from the deal over 10 years.

Additionally, Ellison said the company does not expect to announce any layoffs in the near future. He confirmed that 200 employees of its 40,000-person work force were let go recently, but argued that that hardly constituted a round of layoffs.

He jokingly remarked that Oracle had a manager quit Tuesday, describing the departure as "more executive shrinkage."

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