Update: Oracle Q1 earnings beat analysts' expectations

Profits up 28% as software revenue soars to $4.2 billion

Oracle Corp. today reported first-quarter 2009 earnings of 21 cents per share, a 28% increase year over year. Overall revenue for the quarter was $5.3 billion, an increase of 18%, while net income was $1.1 billion, up 28% over last year, the company said.

Software revenue rose 20% to $4.2 billion, while new software license sales were $1.2 billion, an increase of 14%.

Non-GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) earnings were 29 cents per share on revenue of $5.42 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had predicted 27 cents per share and $5.42 billion in revenue.

Oracle's results had been highly anticipated by Wall Street during a week rocked by turmoil in the financial markets. The vendor's shares had already dropped about 20% since early to mid-August, to $18.73 per share at the close of trading today, but they rose to about $19 immediately after hours.

Oracle can continue to post strong growth despite the turbulent economy for a couple of reasons, CEO Larry Ellison said during a conference call Thursday.

"The license renewal business ... is about half of our business," he said. "That's an extremely high-margin business and continues to grow."

And the company's dominance in certain key products, such as databases, helps sustain its momentum, Ellison added. "The fact we sell more database than anyone else means we can invest more in improving our database," he said.

But middleware is Oracle's fastest-growing product line, Ellison said: "We think [we have moved] from number two to number one in middleware. We have either passed IBM or are about to pass IBM."

Oracle's annual OpenWorld user conference begins in San Francisco on Sunday. Evidence and speculation have mounted over the product and strategy announcements officials will make there, particularly regarding Oracle database 11g.

Oracle President Charles Phillips said the company will deliver an update to 11g this quarter, and confirmed that a database-related announcement would be made at OpenWorld, but did not provide specifics.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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