BOSTON (Reuters) - Oracle Corp forecast that its profit in the current quarter will beat 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 almost 4 percent after it also reported new software sales surged past its own forecasts.
"It's a nice present for shareholders," a JP Morgan analyst told Oracle executives during an earnings conference call.
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.
Still, Oracle wasn't the only major technology company to release strong results on Thursday. BlackBerry maker Research in Motion reported results that mostly beat expectations and it forecast strong profits for the current quarter.
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.
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 preloaded with Oracle's software.
Oracle forecast that it will report profit, excluding items, of 48 cents to 50 cents per share in its current quarter. That's above the average analyst forecast of 46 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company reported second-quarter profit, excluding items, of 51 cents per share, beating the average analyst forecast of 46 cents.
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 3.9 percent to $31.46 after closing at $30.27 on Nasdaq.
Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Robert MacMillan, Richard Chang, Phil Berlowitz