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1/26/2011
02:53 PM
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SAP Reports Record Sales, Contests Oracle Fine

Looking past a 36% drop in earnings tied to the TomorrowNow lawsuit, SAP executives say fourth-quarter results point to strong, innovation-driven growth across industries and regions.

Despite a financial sock to the gut from a $1.3 billion legal damages award to be paid to Oracle, SAP on Wednesday reported strong financial results that had company executives sounding confident in what the company describes as its innovation-driven growth strategy. The performance was capped by a 25% increase in software revenue to 1.5 billion euros ($2.0 billion) for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2010 (all figures in constant currencies). SAP reported a 13% increase in software and software related service revenues for the full year to 9.8 billion euros ($13.3 billion). That latter figure exceeded company guidance.

"It's the most balanced quarter, in terms of geography, industry and market segment, that I've ever seen," co-CEO Bill McDermott told InformationWeek.

More than 25% of the fourth quarter sales increase was tied to large deals in excess of 5 million euros ($6.8 million). The big deals, too, were also spread across geographies and industries, McDermott said.

SAP is "on a roll" because it is "innovating the future rather than consolidating the past," McDermott said, a clear shot at Oracle and a recurring theme throughout the presentation to analysts. SAP is gaining momentum because "companies appreciate our thought leadership," he said. "Our strategy and our IT roadmap enables customers to achieve business outcomes, so they're investing."

The two innovations set to drive the most growth in 2011 will be analytics and on-device computing, said co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe. The highlight in analytics is Hana, the in-memory appliance SAP introduced late last year. In mobile computing, an integration of the Sybase Unwired mobile middleware platform with SAP applications will bring new on-device access and process support, Hagemann Snabe said.

SAP's on-demand platform, Business ByDesign, will have a small financial impact in 2011, Hagemann Snabe conceded. Nonetheless, the platform will be surpass 1,000 customers this year, he predicted. It will also move beyond its original focus of providing a full suite of applications for small- and midsize-businesses, adding support for line-of-business extension applications.

"This gives us a strong new category, opening up new markets and adding a new business model for SAP," Hagemann Snabe said.

In an example of a hybrid deployment, an SAP Business ByDesign for Subsidiaries release is expected in the first half of 2011. The release will enable organizations with on-premise SAP Business Suite deployments at headquarters to set up integrated, yet localized on-demand deployments among far-flung divisions and subsidiaries.

Putting SAP's record fourth-quarter sales in perspective, McDermott compared the company's $2 billion in software sales in the quarter to Oracle's application sales noting that "the number two did $855 million (620 million euros) [in application revenue], which is exactly 100 million Euros less than [Europe, the Middle East and Africa alone] did for SAP," he said.

Oracle's last quarterly filing reported $1.9 billion (1.4 billion euros) in total software revenue, but that figure ads database and middle ware revenue.

SAP ended the fiscal year with 12.9 billion euros in total revenue ($17.6 billion), up 11% (in constant currencies) from 10.6 billion euros in 2009.

SAP has set aside 980 million euros to pay the $1.3 billion in damages awarded to Oracle in the copyright infringement lawsuit against SAP and its now-shuttered TomorrowNow services subsidiary. That provision will cut 36% from SAP's bottom line to 437 million euros ($598 million) compared with a profit of a profit of 682 million euros a year earlier.

SAP said it hopes to be able to reduce the fine, which it described in a press release as "disproportionate and wrong," through post-trial motions or a request for a new trial. If those motions fail, SAP says it may appeal the verdict.

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