NEW YORK (TheStreet) –– Oracle (ORCL) announced a management change, with CEO Larry Ellison stepping down and becoming chief technology officer and executive chairman, while Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz and President Mark Hurd will become co-CEOs as the software maker continues to transition to the cloud.
"Safra and Mark will now report to the Oracle board rather than to me," Ellison said in a statement last night. "All the other reporting relationships will remain unchanged. The three of us have been working well together for the last several years, and we plan to continue working together for the foreseeable future. Keeping this management team in place has always been a top priority of mine."
Ellison will continue to work full-time at Oracle, the company he co-founded nearly 40 years ago.
In addition to the management changes, Oracle reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of 62 cents a share on sales of $8.6 billion, as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) revenue rose 32%, with software and cloud revenue rising 6% to $6.6 billion.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting earnings of 64 cents a share on $8.8 billion.
For the fiscal second quarter, Oracle said revenue would be flat to up 4% year over year, with earnings coming in between 68 cents and 72 cents a share. Analysts forecast earnings of 74 cents a share.
In addition, the company declared a quarterly dividend of 12 cents a share, and announced it would add an additional $13 billion to its buyback program.
Shares of Oracle were lower in premarket trading on Friday, off 2.5% to $40.50.
Following the Ellison announcement and earnings, here's what a few analysts had to say:
Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White (Buy, $48 PT)
"Last night, Oracle reported 1Q:FY15 results and provided a 2Q:FY15 outlook that was below our estimates; however, the company's cloud business show strong performance and deferred revenue handily beat our projections. The big news of the evening wasn't Oracle earnings report but the announcement that Larry Ellison stepped down as CEO and will remain active in the CTO and Executive Chairman roles, while Safra Catz and Mark Hurd will share the CEO position. Additionally, Oracle announced a new $13 billion stock repurchase program. Given near-term softness, we are reducing our estimates and lowering our 12-month price target to $48.00 (from $50.00); however, we remain optimistic around Oracle's cloud initiatives and we look forward to Oracle Open World kicking off in just over a week."
Canaccord Genuity analyst Richard Davis (Buy, $48 PT)
"Larry Ellison has agreed to step down as CEO; however, he will remain Chairman of Oracle's board and will take the role of CTO. Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, who were both Presidents at the firm, will mutually accept the CEO title, while Catz will also remain CFO. Though surprised a bit by the timing of the announcement, we view the change as nothing more than a shift in titles - we expect each individual to maintain more or less the same roles they have held at the firm over the past several years. This change was more of a reward for efforts of Catz and Hurd."
Deutsche Bank analayst Karl Keirstead (Hold, $42 PT)
"While we understand that Larry Ellison relinquishing his CEO title was inevitable (he is 70), we can't help but worry that the timing coincides with the transition (database slowing, apps shifting to the cloud) facing Oracle. We're also disappointed in hardware product sales (down 14%) and non-GAAP operating margins (flat at 44.4% in 1QF15, below our estimate, and flattening after years of steady gains). The EPS guidance for 2QF15 implies modest 1%-3% non-GAAP EPS growth in the first half of FY15, below our previous 10% EPS growth forecast."
Pacific Crest Securities analyst Brendan Barnicle (Outperform, $45 PT)
"Co-Presidents Safra Katz and Mark Hurd are becoming Co-CEOs while Larry Ellison will become Executive Chairman and CTO. For practical purposes, the company has been operating this way for several years, so the transition is unlikely to be disruptive, and it resolves a long-standing concern about Ellison's ultimate retirement."
-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York
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