Updated from Sept. 22Slowing growth in its core database business and a small miss on the top line tripped up Oracle ( ORCL - Get Report). The stock fell 77 cents, or 5.7%, to $12.75 Friday morning. The software giant met first-quarter EPS expectations, reporting a profit of $519 million, or 10 cents a share, compared with $509 million, or 10 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding items, the company earned $738 million, or 14 cents a share. Revenue totaled $2.77 billion, an increase of 25%. But non-GAAP revenue of $2.91 billion was just shy of analysts' estimates at $2.94 billion. (The difference between the two figures: an "add back" of $140 million in maintenance revenue that was written down as a result of the PeopleSoft acquisition.) Database and middleware license sales totaled $502 million, well under Wall Street's informal estimates. CEO Larry Ellison defended the number, saying that database license sales grew by an unusually strong 20% a year ago. "When the two quarters are averaged, growth is right on our target of 10%," he said during a conference call with investors. Bolstered by the acquisitions of PeopleSoft and Retek, sales of licenses for business applications, traditionally a weak point for Oracle, grew by 84% to $127 million. Co-president Charles Phillips said that not all of the growth was a result of revenue from the acquired companies. Sales of Oracle's "e-business" suite grew by 21%, while sales of Oracle's human resources products were up 57%. Even so, Wall Street was expecting more; the informal consensus for application license revenue was $153 million. Greg Maffei, Oracle's co-president and chief financial officer, said the company had signed two large deals during the first quarter but was unable to complete the work before the end of the period. And Ellison said middleware business was strong with 34% growth in revenue. But since database and middleware sales are lumped together, the big increase in middleware could indicate that database sales were actually off a bit.
Looking to the second quarter, Oracle told investors to expect a profit of 19 cents a share, on revenue ranging from $3.37 billion to $3.46 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for a forecast of 19 cents a share and revenue of $3.47 billion. Oracle no longer breaks out the contribution made by acquired companies, and that, says Richard Williams, chief software analyst for Garban Institutional Equities, is a source of serious confusion. "Taking the past four quarters on a rolling basis, and then adding the contribution of Retek and PeopleSoft to the year-ago period, Oracle growth was essentially flat," he said in an interview. Oracle has been in the throes of a massive expansion by acquiring, or announcing its intention to acquire, 10 companies in less than a year. Speaking at his company's annual customer convention on Wednesday, Ellison said Oracle is going to focus on integrating its latest acquisition, Siebel ( SEBL) for the immediate future and isn't likely to make another major buy in the short run. The $5.85 billion Siebel deal is expected to close early next year. Ellison also said he expects Oracle to double its revenue to about $30 billion within a few years.