Red-ink Sun Set

You can't make up results as bad as this. Sun Microsystems, in its last days as an independent company has announced absolutely horrible preliminary numbers for its fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, which ended June 30, 2009.

According to the company, Sun expects revenues for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 in the range of $2.580 to $2.680 billion, as compared with $3.780 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008. That's a more than billion year-over-year dollar drop.

Sun went on to state that it anticipates a GAAP (General Accepted Accounting Principles) net loss per share for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 of from twenty-four to thirty-four cents per share. If you want to ignore GAAP, Sun says its net loss won't be that bad: share holders will only lose six to sixteen cents per share.

Want to know more? Tough. "Sun will not host a conference call in conjunction with fourth quarter results. Results are expected to be posted on upon the filing of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for fiscal 2009 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is due no later than August 31, 2009."

Before then, Sun hopes to have been acquired by Oracle. The special stockholders meeting for the proposed acquisition of Sun by Oracle will take place on July 16, 2009.

Oracle swears, in a SEC (Security & Exchange Commission) statement that buying Sun will make money for Oracle shareholders. The 8-K document includes the lines: "After reviewing preliminary results reported by Sun Microsystems, Inc. ("Sun") for Sun's quarter ending June 30, 2009, Oracle expects the Sun acquisition to be accretive to Oracle's earnings by at least 15 cents on a non-GAAP basis in the first full year after closing and estimates that the acquired business will contribute over $1.5 billion to Oracle's non-GAAP operating profit in that year, increasing to over $2 billion in the second year."

I'm hard pressed to see where Oracle sees this silver lining. Letting every other Sun staffer go? Revealing a SPARC-powered game console!?

When Oracle announced it was sweeping Sun away from IBM, the deal didn't make much sense to me. I could see how IBM and Sun's products and business plans could work well together. Oracle and Sun? Not so much.

And, it looks like Oracle doesn't have a lot of use for much of what Sun brings to the table either. OpenSolaris appears to be on the way out. While Larry Ellison, Oracle's CEO, says nice things about SPARC, Ellison also recently said, "Just because we're buying Sun does not mean Oracle is becoming a manufacturer. Sun outsources almost all of its manufacturing to companies like Flextronics and Fujitsu. With one tiny exception, Sun does no manufacturing; neither will we." I strongly suspect that by ther middle of 2010, Fujitsu will own SPARC lock, stock, and barrel.

Sun has other programs, like VirtualBox that are very promising, but I don't see Oracle having much use for them. For all that VirtualBox is a great virtualization program; Oracle's has put its operating system and virtualization plans into following Red Hat's RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and KVM lead. If VirtualBox, or any other program or project, doesn't somehow contribute to Oracle's database-driven bottom line, I see little future for them.

So, what I foresee is Oracle strip-mining Sun for Java and its middleware stack, firing staffers left and right, and letting other non-core projects die from neglect. After a quarter like this one, I don't see any other possible way for Oracle to make its Sun acquisition actually deliver the operating profit goods that Oracle is promising its share holders.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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