December 16, 2010 / 9:27 PM / in 7 years

Oracle software sales surge, shares rise

BOSTON (Reuters) - Oracle Corp’s new software sales surged and beat its own forecasts, and the company reported profit ahead of Wall Street estimates, suggesting that its strategy of offering a one-stop shop for software and hardware is paying off.

Shares in the company run by Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison rose more than 3 percent.

Oracle, which has spent more than $42 billion on acquisitions over the past six years, including its January 2010 purchase of hardware maker Sun Microsystems, has seen sales grow faster than those of rivals as it cross-sells its database, middleware, business management software and hardware to the same set of customers.

Avian Securities analyst Jeff Gaggin said that strategy has helped Oracle win business away from rivals including Hewlett-Packard Co, International Business Machines Corp and SAP AG.

“I‘m not convinced that this necessarily means the IT spending environment is robust. But it certainly suggests that Oracle’s strategy is paying off,” Gaggin said.

The world’s No. 3 software maker said it has a $2 billion pipeline of sales of its Exadata computers. Three months ago the company sized the pipeline at $1.5 billion.

Exadata are specialized computers for handling tasks such as analyzing business trends that come pre-loaded with Oracle’s software.

Oracle said sales of new software climbed 21 percent from a year earlier to $2 billion during its fiscal second quarter ended November 30.

Three months ago, the company forecast that those sales would rise between 6 and 16 percent.

Investors pay close attention to new software sales because they generate high-margin, long-term maintenance contracts and are a good gauge of the company’s future profits.

Oracle reported second-quarter profit, excluding items, of 51 cents per share, beating the average analyst forecast of 46 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue climbed 48 percent from a year earlier to $8.58 billion, buoyed by sales from the acquisition of Sun. That handily beat the average analyst forecast of $8.34 billion.

It posted hardware sales of $1.08 billion, slightly below the $1.1 billion that analysts were expecting.

“Hardware was so-so,” said Cowen & Co analyst Peter Goldmacher. That was a bad sign, he said, because Oracle executives have said that they are looking to Exadata sales to fuel long-term growth.

Oracle’s shares rose 3.4 percent to $31.30 after closing at $30.27 on Nasdaq.

Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Robert MacMillan and Richard Chang

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