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Oracle calls out rival after mixed quarter

Oracle reported a mixed quarter on Tuesday, but boasted that its growth in the cloud sector may be surprising, calling out a major rival in the process. (Tweet this)

"Our cloud results were much, much better than expected, as we're clearly growing faster than Salesforce," Oracle CEO Safra Catz said on the company's earnings call.

Oracle posted adjusted third-quarter earnings per share of 68 cents, meeting Wall Street forecasts. But the firm slightly missed on its revenue, reporting $9.33 billion for the quarter. Analysts had expected Oracle to report earnings of about 68 cents per share on $9.46 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

The company's stock moved about 3 percent to the upside in after-hours trading.

Oracle Corp. headquarters in Redwood Shores, California.
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Oracle Corp. headquarters in Redwood Shores, California.

Although it only represents a small portion of overall revenue, Oracle's cloud business (including software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service) remains one of the company's areas of focus.

"In Q3, we sold nearly $200 million of new SaaS and PaaS business as measured in annual recurring revenue," Oracle CEO, Mark Hurd said in the company's earnings release.

"In Q4, we expect to sell over $300 million of new SaaS and PaaS annual recurring revenue. That means we have a real chance to sell more SaaS and PaaS new business this coming quarter than any other cloud services provider," he added. "I think our hyper-growth in the cloud comes as a big surprise to a lot of people."

In a January interview with CNBC, CEO Mark Hurd said his firm is ready to grab market share from cloud competitors like Salesforce. Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison repeated that challenge in Tuesday's earnings release.

"We are well on our way to selling over $1 billion of new SaaS and PaaS business in calendar 2015," Ellison said. "Salesforce.com has announced that it also expects to add about $1 billion of new SaaS and PaaS business this year. So it's going to be a close race who sells more in the cloud this year, us or them. Stay tuned."

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After posting healthy gains over the past few quarters, Oracle's cloud products could be poised to gain even momentum, according to one analyst. On the earnings call, Ellison redoubled on the cloud momentum compared to its rival.

"I predicted that in our fiscal year 2016 Oracle would likely sell more SaaS and PaaS new business than Salesforce.com," Ellison said. "I was way to cautious and conservative."

He revised his prediction to Oracle overtaking its Salesforce in SaaS and PaaS for the calendar year 2015.

Still, one worry for the tech giant is that the strengthening U.S. dollar could cut into its growth and margins.

The tech giant said the strong greenback had a "significant impact on results in the quarter." In fact, without the strengthening of the dollar, total revenue would have been up 6 percent measured in constant currency, the company said.

Oracle also announced that it had raised its quarterly dividend to 15 cents from 12 cents.