News > Technology
Oracle eyes second-half growth
Software maker says it sees signs of improvement in the second half of the fiscal year.
September 17, 2002: 8:21 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Executives of software maker Oracle Corp. on Tuesday reaffirmed Wall Street's financial expectations for its fiscal second-quarter and said they see business conditions firming during the second half of the fiscal year.

They also said they expect to continue cutting costs, with more job cuts likely in the company's international operations as it continues to struggle through what has been nearly a two-year drought in information technology (IT) spending by large corporations.

"Visibility beyond the upcoming quarter is minimal, but we continue to believe that we will see year-over-year improvements," Jeff Henley, Oracle's chief financial officer, said on a conference call Tuesday evening.

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Still, shares of Oracle (ORCL: Research, Estimates) fell 62 cents, or 7 percent, to $8.41 in extended-hours trading after Oracle's first-quarter sales come in below forecasts.

For the current quarter ending in November, Henley said the company expects to log revenue ranging between $2.23 billion and $2.3 billion, which would be 4 percent to 7 percent below the revenue it logged in the year-ago period.

Earnings per share are expected to come in between 8 cents and 9 cents, Henley said. The company reported a profit of 10 cents per share during last year's fiscal second quarter.

That forecast is in line with what Wall Street's general expectations have been. At last count, the consensus estimate of analysts polled by earnings tracker First Call was for Oracle to log a second-quarter profit of 9 cents per share on revenue of roughly $2.31 billion.

Second quarter license revenue, which reflects new sales of software, is likely to decline between 10 percent and 15 percent from the year-ago second quarter, Henley said.

Looking further out, Henley said the company's pipeline currently suggests that the company will return to growth in software license revenue and begin to show quarterly earnings that are either equal to or greater than the corresponding year-ago quarters.

"Each quarter throughout this next year I think we should do a bit better, although we certainly don't expect any sharp improvements," Henley said.

Investors and industry observers have been hotly anticipating the company's business outlook, which most had expected to contain an air of caution.

Continued IT spending drought leads to lower 1Q results

As have most information technology (IT) providers, Oracle's sales have been slumping in recent quarters as large U.S. corporations continue to defer spending amid a sluggish and uncertain economy.

Earlier on Tuesday, the company reported a fiscal first-quarter profit of $343 million, or 6 cents per share, including the impact of one-time charges. That's down from net income of $511 million, or 9 cents per share, during the same period last year.

At $2.03 billion, Oracle's first-quarter revenue fell 10.6 percent from $2.27 billion during the year-ago period.

Excluding the impact of a charge related to its investment in Liberate Technologies, Oracle said it earned $386 million, or 7 cents per share, in the first quarter.

The company's first-quarter profit was in line with the consensus estimate of analysts polled by earnings tracker First Call, while revenue came in slightly below the $2.06 billion company watchers generally had expected.

Last June, Oracle executives forecast earnings of 7 cents per share and said that license revenue was likely to be between 15 percent and 25 percent lower than it was a year earlier. As it turned out, new software license sales were $549 million in the first quarter, down 23 percent, the company said.

For the past six quarters, Oracle has logged year-over-year revenue declines as it struggled with slack demand in its core market and a difficult transition into a relatively new product area for the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company.

Profits began showing annual declines three quarters ago. The company has been able to stem the losses there largely through aggressive cost-cutting, much of which has come in the form of layoffs and other workforce actions.

Henley said Oracle cut roughly 600 jobs, or 1.4 percent of its workforce, in the first quarter, bringing its total head count to about 41,500. In the second quarter, he said the company will cut as many as 600 more jobs, particularly in its international operations, which he said was especially weak.

Over the past year, Oracle shares have fallen more than 52 percent from a high of $17.50, slightly outperforming the Goldman Sachs computer software index, which lost roughly 55 percent of its value during the same period.  Top of page

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