Tech Check

Good Not Good Enough For Oracle?

It was a solid fourth quarterfor the world's second largest software maker, but investors who have pushed these shares higher by better than 50 percent over the past quarter were apparently looking for something more.

How much more this company realistically could have done isn't clear, since the numbers Oracle reported after the bell tonight are pretty stellar no matter how you slice 'em. The company reported 46 cents a share versus the 44 cent consensus, on $6.9 billion in revenue. In fact, revenue beat estimates by better than $400 million and in an economy like this one, that's no small feat.

Digging deeper into the release, Oracle reported non-GAAP operating margins of 51 percent, substantially beating the 48.6 percent the company reported in the same period a year earlier.

New Software Licenses and Product Support, the company's maintenance fees, were right in line with expectations at $3.1 billion. But new software licenses were way up, jumping to $2.744 billion. Analysts expected $2.45 billion, and Brendan Barnicle at Pacific Crest Securities was on the higher end at $2.5 billion. Oracle's beat on this metric is significant.

Oracle is regularly and deeply affected by currency fluctuations, and just about everyone anticipated that the effects this time around wouldn't be nearly as severe as they were last quarter, thanks to a stabilizing dollar. To that end, Oracle says the quarter's non-GAAP earnings suffered a nickel a share impact thanks to a strengthening dollar, and without that activity, EPS would have reached 51 cents.

Of course, we'll get more color from the conference call, as well as further details surrounding the progress of the Sun Microsystemsacquisition. Still, that early hit to Oracle shares when this news was released might have been that instant, knee-jerk sell-on-the-news kinda thing. And for those who were the victim of those electronic trades, they might be missing out a continued Oracle rally.

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