Oracle profit up but shares tumble on sales miss

March 26, 2008, 9:02 PM UTC

By Michal Lev-Ram

Business software giant Oracle reported quarterly earnings Wednesday that met Wall Street’s expectations, but company shares slipped almost 9% in after-hours trading on news that third-quarter sales came in slightly below the Street estimates.

Net income for the third quarter rose 30% to $1.3 billion, or 26 cents per share.

Excluding certain one-time items, the company’s net income came in at $1.34 billion, or 30 cents a share, in line with analysts’ estimates and 30% higher than its year-ago earnings. Oracle reported sales of $5.3 billion, up from last year’s $4.45 billion but less than the $5.4 billion analysts had hoped for, according to Thomson First Call.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison seemed unfazed by the miss, saying the company’s operating margins are now “substantially higher ” than its competitors, including Microsoft (MSFT), and that he expects to pass $10 billion in annual sales by next quarter.

Redwood City, Calif.-based Oracle has been on a shopping spree recently, scooping up over 30 companies in the last three years, including PeopleSoft and Siebel Systems. It is currently in the process of purchasing BEA Systems, an acquisition that would likely help the company compete more effectively against another rival, IBM.