Will Sun Shine Through in Oracle's 4Q?

Oracle is expected to post impressive sales and earnings for the fourth quarter after the bell Thursday, but analysts are most curious to see how much the Sun Microsystems acquisition contributed to its success.

Oracle shareholders are expecting nothing less than more of the same from the software giant Thursday when it releases its fourth-quarter sales and earnings report.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are pegging the Redwood Shores, Calif. company for a profit of $0.54 a share, excluding one-time charges, on sales of roughly $9.5 billion, up from a profit of $0.46 a share on sales of $6.9 billion in the year-ago quarter.

This time around, analysts are particularly keen to see just how much sales traction Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) managed to squeeze from its blockbuster $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Last quarter, Oracle easily topped analysts' sales and profit estimates, pocketing $1.2 billion, or $0.38 a share, on sales of $6.5 billion.

At the time, Oracle said its hardware systems sales, which included Sun servers for only about a third of the quarter, was $458 million, or 7 percent of its total revenue in the quarter. Regardless, top Oracle executives are confident that Sun's high-end servers will pay big dividends down the road.

"The Sun integration is going even better than we expected," Safra Catz, a president at Oracle, said in March. "The integration is off to a very strong start and we continue to expect Sun will contribute $1.5 billion in operating income in 2011 and $2 billion in 2012."

While its chief rival SAP (NYSE: SAP) continues to struggle through a management shakeup and uneven profit and earnings reports, Oracle keeps chugging along. Last quarter, analysts were most impressed with its strong applications growth, up 21 percent, and the fact that its license updates and product support sales rose 13 percent to $3.3 billion.

Earlier this month, Oracle in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed that it would eat another $825 million in restructuring charges this year, primarily for severance payments to Sun workers in Europe and Asia that it's jettisoning to reduce long-term costs.

Twenty-eight of the 37 analysts tracking Oracle rate the stock either a "buy" or "strong buy" with eight rating it a "hold" and one advising clients to sell.

Oracle shares were off $0.31, or 1 percent, to $22.34 in Thursday afternoon trading.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.




Tags: Oracle, software, earnings, Sun, SAP


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