RALEIGH, N.C. — Shares in Red Hat plunged 30 percent to a new 52-week low of $13.70 on Thursday morning following software giant Oracle’s announcement on Wednesday that it would move into the Linux software space.

By 11:30 a.m., more than 58 million shares had traded hands — nine times the daily average.

Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT) closed at $19.51 on Wednesday but the share price dropped dramatically in overnight trading to Thursday’s opening price of $15.80.

Shortly thereafter, panicked Red Hat shareholders sent the price down to $13.70.

By 11:30 a.m., however, buyers rallied the stock back to $14.34.

Analysts went on the warpath against Red Hat before the markets opened Thursday.

Credit Suisse dropped Red Hat to neutral from outperform and cut the value of Red Hat stock by more than 50 percent to $14.

Sun Trust Robinson Humphrey reduced Red Hat to neutral from buy.

JMP Securities downgraded Red Hat to market perform from market outperform.

Also Thursday, Soleil Securities slashed Red Hat’s stock price target to $11.50 from $19.

The stock sellout reflected the views of several analysts who said Oracle’s move threatened Red Hat’s primary revenue source. Several now speculate that Oracle will move to acquire Red Hat.

Terry Tillman, an analyst with Sun Trust Robinson Humphrey, called the Oracle move “more barbaric than imagined.”

Rumors that Oracle would move into Red Hat space have circulated for months, dating back to Red Hat’s acquisition in April of JBoss. JBoss is an open-source software developer for servers, a space dominated by proprietary products.

Oracle does support Linux through a partnership with Red Hat.

Oracle is attempting to “backdoor its way in to ongoing Red Hat updates, change the Red Hat logo, and resell/support it at prices over 50 percent lower to existing Red Hat customers, as well as future prospects,” Tillman wrote, according to The Associated Press.
“Ironically, we believe Red Hat may well end up in the hands of Oracle following some period of sustained market cap erosion,” Tillman said.