) is one of the biggest software companies in the world. The $159 billion firm sells mission-critical software packages to clients that need database tools for everything from customer resource management to supply chain analysis. Because Oracle's software is integrated so tightly into its customers' operations, those customers have extremely high switching costs and competitors have big barriers to entry.
The transition from conventional software licenses to the cloud is proving lucrative for ORCL -- it provides recurring subscription income for the firm's income statement. Massive cash generation abilities have ballooned the cash balance on Oracle's balance sheet to more than $15 billion net of debt. That huge pile of dry powder gives ORCL a lot of options right now, from acquisitions to dividend boosts to debt extinguishment. Because Oracle's products are less flashy than more consumer-oriented tech sector names, ORCL is less liable to destroy shareholder value with whatever it does in my view.
Ex-cash, Oracle's currently trading for a price-to-earnings ratio of just above 10. While that's not exactly a deep value price tag, shares look cheap considering ORCL's growth potential and cash-generation capabilities over the next few years. With analyst sentiment on the upswing in Oracle again, we're betting on shares.
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-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.
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