There was quite a bit of noise about software giant
over the market's airwaves this morning. It ended the day as the
Nasdaq's second most active stock and down 13%.
The stock began its drop early, after influential analyst Chuck Phillips of
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
issued a report expressing caution about the company's principal business, database software licensing. Phillips did say, however, that the company's key applications business remains strong.
That kind of price drop seemed like an awful lot of negative attention for a relatively mild report; Phillips wrote that he was lowering the company's licensing revenue estimates a "tad," but had left earnings estimates intact. He blamed the dot-com bust up, saying that 10%-12% of database license revenue last year came from Internet companies, many of which are now just fond memories. He cut database licensing revenue growth to the 10%-to-13% range from 32% last year and 19% last quarter.
But he also said Oracle's malaise should be temporary. "Database license growth fluctuates even in good years. If it wasn't dot-coms, it would be something else. We expect Q4 database license revenue to rebound given the relatively easy comparisons and the dot-com comparisons will have moved through the system by then."
Doesn't seem the kind of thing to sink Oracle shares (which, like anything tech, have been under pressure) so much, but maybe investors are worried that Oracle CEO
would rather be yachting than manning Oracle's bridge.
After all, Ellison has sold a total of 27 million shares in the company -- in five chunks of 5 million plus some -- over the past few weeks. And he reportedly plans to use the funds to buy himself a yacht.