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Oracle Earnings Could Be Wall Street Victim

Oracle
CNBC.com
Oracle

If so many things in life come down to timing, today is a day Oracle would probably rather avoid. The Dow's off more than 800 points in a couple of days this week; the Nasdaq plunged more than 100 points just yesterday.

And in the midst of all this, Oracle is set to release its first quarter earnings after the bell tonight and they will be very closely followed.

Oracle'snumbers will likely paint a company slowing down. That part of the equation is expected, so don't go pressing the sell button simply on slow news. The issue for Oracle will be how much business is slowing. And for how long.

Last quarter, the company projected new license growth of 10 percent to 20 percent in its first quarter. Not bad, but that compares to 35 percent growth for the same period last year. And that projection came well ahead of the Wall Street implosion. That's important since big banks are so important to the Oracle equation.

There's more, and it's not good. One analyst I talked to told me it's very simple: Big business is getting smaller, which means the companies selling to them will have to get smaller too. Airlines, financial services. Oracle customers have issues, which means Oracle will have issues too. Not to mention a strengthening dollar during the quarter which could also take its toll on the world's second largest software company.

This time around, the Street is expecting 27 cents on $5.42 billion in revenue. But that rear view look on the quarter gone by, while interesting, pales in importance to what this company is seeing for its second quarter. It seems everyone is expecting disappointing numbers, but the tricky part will be how much more disappointing Oracle's outlook might be.

Back to timing: investors are hardly in a forgiving mood now, loathe to embrace bad news or the excuses behind it. This is not the market to disappoint. And yet Oracle likely will, unless it came up with a magical way to lessen the financial blow during the quarter.

What a difference a few months can make. Oracle started the year atop so many conviction and buy lists. Now it languishes. The question is for, how long. Morgan Stanley is staying the course, reiterating its "overweight" rating on these shares today.

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I'd never count Larry Ellison out. If his team can sing even a tepid optimistic tune today, that might be magnified the way bad news has, as investors search far and wide for a solid place to park their money.

And even a shred of good news might be reason enough to stay in these shares.

    • Oracle Earnings Trends And Projections

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