World’s second largest software firm’s shortfall dashes hopes of a high-tech comeback
SAN FRANCISCO — Technology bellwether Oracle Corp. warned Friday its profit and sales during its latest quarter were weaker than anticipated — an indication that recession-weary businesses remain reluctant to invest in computer software and other equipment.
The Redwood Shores-based company estimated its earnings for the three-month period ending in February will be 9 cents per share, a penny below the consensus estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call. The projection also represents penny decrease from the company’s profit at the same time last year.
Oracle, the world’s second largest software maker behind Microsoft, is scheduled to announce the results of its fiscal third quarter March 14. The shortfall reflected sluggish sales of Oracle’s database and business software, particularly in Asia, said CEO Larry Ellison.
Without providing specific numbers, Oracle said the year-to-year change in software sales for third quarter will be similar to second — second-quarter sales fell 27 percent from the previous year.
In a conference call with analysts in December, Oracle executives had forecast a decline “in the high teens” during the just-completed quarter.
Oracle’s warning probably will dash hopes for a revival in the depressed high-tech. “This casts a pall over everything,” said industry analyst George Gilbert of Credit Suisse First Boston. Oracle’s shares fell 63 cents to close at $15.99 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. After the company issued its warning, Oracle’s shares plunged $1.27, or nearly 8 percent, in after-hours trading. Many other tech stocks also dropped during after-hours trading.