Oracle's Cloudy Future

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Oracle ( ORCL) shares tanked Friday after a disappointing fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report Thursday. But Wall Street equity analysts were publishing reports indicating that a downbeat aftermath for Oracle shares may be a good time for investors to snap up a great deal for themselves as they on average maintain an "overweight" rating on the stock.

Shares tumbled 9.26% Friday to close at $30.14 after the company posted earnings that matched expectations and revenue that remained flat and fell short of estimates. Key to investor worries was evidence of sluggish progress in an area that Oracle has been banking on for its future growth. During the quarter, both GAAP and non-GAAP new software licenses and cloud software subscriptions revenues rose a mere 1% to $4 billion amid currency headwinds and some global macroeconomic uncertainties.

Mark Murphy, a San Francisco Bay Area-based Piper Jaffray analyst has an overweight rating on Oracle, but predicts that the stock could trade sideways in the near term amid uncertainties surrounding the company's limited visibility on macroeconomic conditions.

During the company's earnings call late Thursday, president Mark Hurd urged investors to look beyond the quarter and into the future to see that Oracle is on target with its cloud growth plans. Hurd said that the company added more than 500 cloud computing customers last quarter, putting it on the path to generating more than $1 billion in revenue a year in cloud computing. These data points grabbed the attention of many analysts. According to Joel Fishbein, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets in New York, this $1 billion run rate puts Oracle in the position of being the second-largest Software-as-a-Service application (SaaS) vendor after Salesforce.com. ( CRM). In a research report, Fishbein noted Oracle's cloud potential is especially significant given the expanding role of SaaS in the overall application business and the multiple expansion that this could generate for the sector.

"We believe Oracle is gaining steam in its cloud business," wrote Stifel Nicolaus analyst Brad Reback. "While we believe there is clearly a shift taking place in customers preferences from on-premise and proprietary solutions to more cloud based and open platforms, we feel ORCL is already in the process of successfully making this transition to this new world."

Michael Turits, an analyst at Raymond James is predicting that Oracle's fiscal first quarter software license and cloud subscription revenue is set to rise 4% to $1.641 billion from a year earlier amid expectations of a big announcement from Oracle next week. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said during the earnings call that the company next week will make a "startling series" of cloud partnership announcements with companies such as saleforce.com, NetSuite ( N) and Microsoft ( MSFT) that will "reshape the cloud and reshape the perception of Oracle Technology in the cloud."

Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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