NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If one were to ask Oracle's ( ORCL) billionaire founder Larry Ellison what his best deal of 2012 was, it might have nothing to do with a well publicized Hawaiian Island land grab. Just days after reporting better than expected earnings that were driven by strong software sales and an improving payoff of a $7.5 billion 2009 acquisition of hardware giant Sun Microsystems, Oracle has returned the M&A table in announcing a $810 million deal for cloud software specialist Eloqua ( ELOQ) that caps off a 18 months of software deals. Oracle said the deal for Eloqua, which values the software specialist at $23.50 a share and caps an impressive 50% stock run since its early August initial public offering, will help the enterprise software and hardware giant add to its growing set of cloud offerings. Specifically, Oracle said Thursday's acquisition will help the company grow its so-called Oracle Marketing cloud, in a move to provide sales and marketing businesses with better virtual relationships and analytics. Eloqua makes software products that help businesses track and analyze revenue in real-time and gives firms the ability to measure the returns on marketing and sales campaigns. Dell ( DELL) and Cisco ( CSCO) are among the company's thousand-plus set of users and Oracle says it expects to greatly expand the platform. "Eloqua's leading marketing automation cloud will become the centerpiece of the Oracle Marketing Cloud," said Thomas Kurian, Executive Vice President of Oracle Development. Already, Oracle's had a busy 18 months bolstering its cloud services, after being accused of falling behind upstart cloud-CRM giant Salesforce.com ( CRM). Earlier in 2012, Oracle bought cloud HR and training specialist Taleo for $1.9 billion. In October of 2011, the company bought another cloud specialist, RightNow, for $1.9 billion. While Oracle's cloud deals and its stated multi-year goals in the fast-growing piece of the tech world are in the early innings, the company's recent earnings signal a cloud software transition is already underway at the tech giant. On Dec. 18, the company reported stronger than expected earnings, driven by 18% gains in new software and cloud revenues and 22% revenue growth in its U.S. operations. Meanwhile, European business grew 12%, rebutting fear an E.U. slowdown would stall growth.
Overall, Redwood City, CA-based Oracle earned on a non-GAAP basis 64 cents per share on $9.094 billion in revenue, thanks in part to new software licenses and cloud software subscriptions revenues, which rose 17% year-over-year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting second-quarter earnings of 61 cents per share on $9.01 billion in revenue. Meanwhile billionaire chief executive and founder Larry Ellison made a strong case that the company's acquisitiveness is paying off. In reference to a $7.5 billion 2009 acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Ellison said "Sun has proven to be one of the most strategic and profitable acquisitions we have ever made," in a press release. "Sun technology enabled Oracle to become a leader in the highly profitable engineered system segment of the hardware business. I believe that products like Exadata and the SPARC SuperCluster will not only continue to drive improved profitability in our hardware business, by the end of this fiscal year, they will also drive growth in our hardware business," Ellison added. All things told, Ellison and Oracle finish 2012 as they entered the year - on the chase for deals and in search of product and revenue growth that are expected to payoff in coming years. While Ellison and president Mark Hurd are agressors in the tech sector, they've also been able to boast about the deals they didn't cut such as a multi-billion offer for British software specialist Autonomy, which was acquired by Hewlett Packard ( HPQ) for over $10 billion in Aug. 2011. In November, Oracle put out a pres release showing Autonomy had approached it for a deal, but that Ellison & Co. were only willing to pay roughly half of HP's eventual price tag. Eloqua shares rose over 31% in early Thursday trading to $23.50, while Oracle shares traded slightly higher to $34.19, adding to 5%-plus gains made in the wake of the company's Dec. 18 earnings. Follow @agara2004 -- Written by Antoine Gara in New York