Updated from March 17

Following Tibco Software's ( TIBX) 17% jump in first-quarter sales late Wednesday, CEO Vivek Ranadive upped the ante, projecting massive growth for his integration software company in an interview with TheStreet.com.

Wall Street also cheered the performance; shares of Tibco were recently up 44 cents, or 5.7%, to $8.21 in early trading Thursday after the company beat both earnings and revenue estimates.

"Certainly the economy has improved from a year ago, there's no question about that," Tibco Chairman and CEO Vivek Ranadive said in a telephone interview late Wednesday after the integration-software company released first-quarter results. "But people have set priorities and integration is one of their highest, if not their highest, priorities."

Ranadive was so bold as to predict that Tibco, whose software is use to knit disparate systems together, has the opportunity to become as big as Oracle ( ORCL) seven years from now. That will take quite a leap in sales, considering Oracle is the world's second-largest independent software maker. The database giant posted revenue in its just-ended fiscal third quarter of $2.51 billion -- nearly 34 times the $74.4 million in first-quarter revenue posted by Tibco Wednesday.

"I should be able to be more valuable than Oracle," he said in the phone interview, after boasting on an earlier conference call: "I believe there is no bigger opportunity in software than in the integration market."

Coming on the heels of a solid quarter reported by Oracle -- one of the few other software makers to report earnings one month ahead of the majority of the sector -- Tibco's first-quarter report could prove to be another hint that the software industry is finally reaping some rewards from a stronger economy.

Under generally accepted accounting principles, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tibco on Wednesday reported net income of $8.5 million, or 4 cents a share, in the first quarter, which ended Feb. 29. That compared with net income of $1.7 million, or 1 cent a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding charges, Tibco, said it earned pro forma net income of 5 cents a share in the first quarter. That compared with pro forma net income of 2 cents a share a year earlier.

Revenue rose 16.8% to $74.4 million from $63.7 million a year earlier. License revenue -- a measure of new software sales -- from nonrelated parties climbed 47.2% from a year earlier to $36.5 million. License revenue from related parties, including Reuters Group ( RTRSY), fell 57.7% from a year ago to $4.3 million. Reuters has reduced its holdings in Tibco to 9% from 50% at the beginning of the year, while also agreeing to allow Tibco to sell its software directly to the financial services industry. Direct sales to the financial services market accounted for nearly 20% of Tibco's first-quarter license revenue.

Wall Street analysts expected Tibco to earn pro forma net income of 3 cents a share on $69.9 million in revenue in the first quarter, according to Thomson First Call. Tibco's first-quarter revenue even beat the highest estimate on the street, Lazard Freres analyst Erick Brethenoux's target of $73.9 million.

Brethenoux called that accomplishment "surprising" and said it was a "great quarter." He has a buy rating on the stock and his firm hasn't done banking with the company.

Looking forward, Tibco expects second-quarter revenue to range from $76 million to $78 million and second-quarter earnings of 5 cents a share. Those targets are better than the consensus estimate calling for second-quarter earnings of 3 cents a year on $73.1 million in revenue.

Tibco is an "inflection point" to post "aggressive growth -- both organic and inorganic," Ranadive said in the conference call. "We think the big deals have come back," he added. "We are also seeing opportunity across the board; it's not just in financial services and telco."

Ranadive said the only major competitor currently facing off against Tibco is behemoth IBM ( IBM).

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