December 20, 2011 / 9:24 PM / 6 years ago

Oracle sales miss forecasts, shares plunge

(Reuters) - Oracle Corp’s profit missed Wall Street’s forecasts for the first time in a decade after new software sales sputtered, hammering its shares and stoking fears that a global economic slowdown is hurting tech spending.

Shares in the world’s No. 3 software maker plunged more than 10 percent after executives also unveiled weak sales projections for the current, fiscal third quarter.

The company posted an unexpected sequential decline in the revenue it gets for providing maintenance on its software products — one of the most lucrative parts of its business.

That hasn’t happened since the fall of 2008, when the financial crisis began with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, said Cowen & Co analyst Peter Goldmacher.

Analysts warned that Oracle’s dismal fiscal second-quarter results boded ill for industry peers. SAP AG’s U.S. stock was down 5 percent, while Inc was off 2 percent in after-hours trading.

“Tech spending is more under pressure than people thought,” Goldmacher said. “IT budgets have been relatively flat, when you have issues like you do in Europe, people naturally pull back.”

Oracle was among the first major technology companies to report results spanning November, offering the latest snapshot of the state of worldwide IT spending. Some analysts said its disastrous showing presaged weaker results from the industry.

It reported profit excluding items of 54 cents per share in its second quarter ended November 30, missing the average analyst forecast of 57 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“Every technology company is going to get hit. This is just the start,” said Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry.


Signs are emerging of a widening global economic slowdown as Europe, which experts say is headed into a recession, gropes for a solution to its over-indebtedness.

Oracle has heavy exposure to the region. New software sales rose 2 percent from a year earlier to $2 billion during the quarter. Analysts, on average, were expecting new software sales of $2.2 billion, according to StreetAccount.

For the current, fiscal third quarter, Oracle on Tuesday projected new software sales growth of zero to 10 percent, lagging an average forecast for about 7 percent growth according to StreetAccount.

The company also reported that hardware product sales fell 14 percent to $953 million, below the average Street account forecast of $1.06 billion. On Tuesday, executives told analysts on a conference call that it expected hard revenue declines of between 5 and 15 percent. StreetAccount had compiled an average forecast of a dip of 0.5 percent.

Oracle’s software maintenance revenue fell to $3.99 billion during the second quarter from $4.02 billion in the first quarter.

The company’s shares fell to $26.15 in extended trade from their Nasdaq close of $29.17.

Additional reporting by Nicola Leske in New York and Poornima Gupta in San Francisco; Editing by Edwin Chan and Richard Chang

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