Oracle's ( ORCL) profit will easily pay for its shiny new quarterly dividend of 5 cents a share. Analysts expect the database software giant to increase per-share earnings 32% to $1.40 in the year that ends in May. Next fiscal year, they predict profit to grow 8% to $1.51. Oracle will easily cover the 20-cent annual dividend payout. Before Oracle surprised investors with its dividend announcement, TheStreet.com Ratings' quantitative model had graded the stock B-minus, a recommendation to "buy." The model analyzes companies' stock prices and financial positions, and the growth expectations of analysts. Based on those estimates, Oracle is trading at a modest 11 times this year's projected net income and 10 times next year's earnings forecast. The company earned a B-plus "reward grade" from TheStreet.com Ratings, reflecting its growth prospects, low price-to-earnings ratio and ability to generate $7.4 billion in cash flow from $22.4 billion in annual revenue. Volatility in its stock price held its "risk grade" lower at C-minus. "Buy" recommendations aren't easy to come by these days. The model gave software firms Microsoft ( MSFT), SAP ( SAP) and Adobe Systems ( ADBE) "overall" grades in the C range, which amount to "hold" recommendations. Overall grades for stocks range from A-plus to E-minus, with bankrupt firms earning F grades. On Wednesday, Oracle said its fiscal third-quarter earnings rose 3% to $0.26 from a year ago. Profit would have climbed 29% if the U.S. dollar hadn't strengthened, devaluing money earned abroad. The company has also been actively buying back stock.
The company's shares, which topped $45 in 2000 during the tech-stock bubble, tumbled to less than $10 two years later during the subsequent crash. They topped $23 last summer before backing off to the mid-teens in recent weeks.