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Oracle Releases Earnings, Delays Conference Call

Oracle's decision to release numbers might be key to efforts to maintain a semblance of stability in global markets.
In a move that combined sensitivity to those victimized by Tuesday's terrorist attacks with responsibility to the world's financial markets, Oracle Thursday postponed its fiscal year 2002 first-quarter earnings conference call until the stock markets reopen, but released the nuts and bolts of its earnings.

In a written statement, CEO Larry Ellison touched on the mixed feelings that led to Oracle's decision. "We feel it's very important to continue to move forward as a sign of our determination not to be bowed by despicable acts of terrorism, and to that end we've released the numbers as planned," Ellison said. "At the same time, we are fully cognizant of the fact that many, especially the investment professionals concentrated in New York, are currently dealing with the aftermath of Tuesday's tragic events, and we want to ensure that we do not unduly add to their burdens by scheduling the conference call."

For the first quarter ended Aug. 31, Oracle reported a profit of $510.6 million on revenue of $2.24 billion, figures that were nearly identical to the $500.6 million in profit earned during the same time last year on revenue of $2.26 billion. Gartner analyst Betsy Burton says that while the figures might appear to indicate a strong quarter for Oracle given the nation's economic woes, she pointed to Oracle's declining licensing revenue--which dropped to $731.4 million from $807.2 million last year--as an area of growing concern.

The drop-off in licensing revenue was offset by a rise in service revenue to $1.51 billion from $1.45 billion last year, but Burton says that if Oracle continues to struggle with its licensing, such struggles eventually will drag down service revenue, as well. "You want to have a balance between license and service revenue," she says. "If your license revenue is going down, where are you performing these services?" The relative insignificance of any company releasing earnings this week clearly was not lost upon Burton, but she suggested that Oracle's decision to release numbers might be key to efforts to maintain a semblance of stability in global markets.