What's more, CEO Larry Ellison has been clear about shifting Oracle's focus to newer parts of the company that are seeing stronger growth. Despite the earnings miss, that Oracle's cloud software sales were up 25% is an encouraging sign. And the 7% growth in Oracle's beleaguered hardware unit was no small accomplishment.
Ellison also reminded analysts that the company was deep in the process of hiring specialist sales teams for Oracle's new cloud-based services. These are believed to have the best growth potential.
From an operations perspective, GAAP earnings per share were up 8% to 56 cents per share, while non-GAAP earnings per share were up 5% to 68 cents per share. Operating cash flow on a trailing 12-month basis was up 10% to $15 billion. So although Oracle's revenue may appear unimpressive, management continues to deliver on the bottom line.
In terms of guidance, management forecasts earnings (excluding items) to be in the range of 92 cents to 99 cents per share. Meanwhile, fourth-quarter revenue is projected to post year-over-year improvement of 3% to 7%. Analysts had modeled earnings of 95 cents and revenue of $11.5 billion, which suggests 5% growth.Of note, these projections don't factor in Oracle's growth potential from its recent acquisitions of Responsys (MKTG) and cloud marketing technology specialist BlueKai. Research firm Forrester predicts the market for digital marketing will grow to more than $43 billion in the next two years. Oracle is well positioned to capitalize on this growth. Plus, at 12 times forward earnings, Oracle stock still looks cheap, especially considering that the shares are now trading at year-ago levels. So from my vantage point; with cloud momentum on its side, Oracle will benefit from easier comparisons in coming quarters. And investors would do a disservice to themselves to bet against Oracle and ignore a strong buying opportunity. At the time of publication, the author held no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @Richard_WSPB This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.