Oracle Corp., the largest maker of database software, reported sales that missed estimates as customers bought Web-based alternatives to the company’s programs that are installed on corporate servers.
Earnings excluding some items for the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in May, were 87 cents a share on sales of $11 billion, the Redwood City, California-based company said in a statement. That compares with analysts’ average projection for profit of 87 cents a share, on revenue of $11.1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company also doubled its quarterly dividend, added $12 billion in buybacks and applied to list on the New York Stock Exchange.
The quarterly results announced Thursday could escalate investors’ fears about Oracle’s ability to adapt to the changing demands of its customers. Businesses and government agencies are increasingly buying software through monthly or annual subscriptions that enable employees to access applications on any machine with an Internet connection. This “cloud computing” approach is a shift from Oracle’s traditional approach of licensing software that is installed on individual computers kept on the premises of its customers.
Oracle in March announced its acquisition of Morrisville telecommunications technologies company Tekelec. But so far, the company hasn’t disclosed any financial terms of that deal and it has stayed mum on its plans. Oracle has been rolling out more cloud computing options through acquisitions and in-house development, but its recent performance is raising questions about its ability to compete in this increasingly important segment of technology.
“It’s a very difficult transition,” Forrester Research analyst Andrew Bartels said. “It’s something they are clearly nervous about.”
The shift in corporate-computing habits is making it harder for Oracle to compete with cloud software companies like Salesforce.com Inc. and Workday Inc.
“Oracle’s going to struggle to grow as the cloud dominates more and more of IT,” said Pat Walravens, an analyst at JMP Securities in San Francisco, who has a market perform rating on the shares. “The world is moving to software as a service.”
Shares of Oracle decreased in late trading after closing down 2.6 percent to $33.21 in New York. They have declined less than 1 percent this year, compared with a 11 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Net income rose to $3.81 billion, or 80 cents a share, from $3.45 billion, or 69 cents, a year earlier.
Hardware-systems sales, including products acquired in the 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc., declined to $849 million, compared with the $795 million estimate of Brad Zelnick, an analyst at Macquarie Capital USA.
Oracle has spent more than $50 billion on a string of about 100 acquisitions since 2005 to bolster its sales, profit and stock price.
(Bloomberg New and The Associated Press contributed to this report)