Oracle shows gains in third quarter

Despite a decline in new software licenses, Oracle Corp. showed an uptick in overall revenue for its third quarter as the company Tuesday reported its latest financial results.

The database company reported net income of US$571 million for the quarter ended Feb. 28. This marks a 12 percent increase over the $508 million in net income posted in the same quarter last year, according to a statement. Oracle also showed a 2 percent increase in revenue over last year's third quarter with US$2.31 billion earned this period.

The company posted earnings per share of US$0.11, which was enough to edge out the forecast of analysts polled by Thomson First Call by a penny.

New software licenses for Oracle products fell in this quarter as compared to last year, but product updates and services revenue rose in the period, according to the statement.

Oracle executives noted that sales early in the quarter were particularly strong but that a looming war between the U.S. and Iraq seemed to have a negative effect during February.

"The first two months went very well, and then we saw weakness in most regions of the world," said Jeff Henley, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Oracle, during a conference call with analysts. "This caused more deals to slip than normal."

Because of political and economic uncertainty, Henley opted to give broad guidance for the company's fourth quarter. Oracle expects to earnings per share for that period to fall between US$0.12 and US$0.15, he said.

"It is just not possible for us to estimate any better than that," Henley said.

A particular bright spot for Oracle in the quarter came from its E-Business Suite outsourcing program. Larry Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer at Oracle, said the business grew 80 percent in the quarter as companies turned to outsourcing as a way to save costs.

Oracle is also looking for a boost in government spending in the coming quarter.

"Our forecast in (the fourth quarter) in the government sector is very, very strong," Ellison said.

Shares of Oracle (Nasdaq:ORCL) fell less than 1 percent to close Tuesday at US$12.25 per share before the company released its earnings.

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