Oracle (ORCL) - Get Report Chairman Larry Ellison essentially challenged Salesforce.com (CRM) - Get Report to a race to $10 billion in cloud revenues, during a fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday.
Shares of Oracle gained 76 cents, or 2%, to $39.40 in after-hours trading, as the company topped sales expectations but came in slightly below earnings forecasts.
Revenues for the quarter were $10.59 billion, while FactSet put the consensus at $10.46 billion. Oracle earned 81 cents per share, a penny below forecasts. However, absent currency effects, Oracle said the earnings per share would have been a cent higher, matching expectations.
Ellison said that growth in software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service sales "at least double the rate of our closest competitors," during the call.
Oracle's Saas offerings include apps for managing relationships with customers, human resource processes, financial resource planning and supply chain functions. The company's Paas provides tools for building apps and managing apps, analyzing data and other processes.
Ellison acknowledged that Salesforce.com is the largest cloud software group. However, he noted that Salesforce.com does not compete in enterprise resource management, which he called the largest category. Oracle has a broader portfolio, he said, and could allow mid-market companies to run their entire cloud packages on its systems.
"That's something Salesforce can't offer," Ellison said.
Ellison and Salesforce.com Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff, a 13-year veteran of Oracle, have knocked each others' companies during calls. During Salesforce.com's May earnings call Benioff attributed his company's growth to the struggles of Oracle and SAP (SAP) - Get Report to generate revenues in the cloud.
Benioff launched a $2.8 billion buyout of cloud commerce developer Demandware (DWRE) in June, and will not sit by idly as Ellison and Oracle sprint to the $10 billion mark.
Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz said the company expects Saas and Paas revenues to grow 75% to 80% year over year in the first quarter. Catz also projected non-GAAP earnings of 56 cents to 60 cents per share, compared to 53 cents per share in the prior first quarter.
Catz noted that metrics, from earnings-per-share to operating income and revenue, are all trending higher. The company is growing faster than Salesforce.com and Workday (WDAY) - Get Report , she said.
"For a while I was telling you this is a transition," she said, pointing to the increases in various metrics.
"I feel like we are officially at the complete end of the beginning," she added. "We've made the transition and we're moving up."