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Don't expect any major revelations from




The database software giant is generally expected to meet estimates when it reports its fiscal first-quarter results after the markets close. And while investors will be listening closely to what Oracle has to say about its second quarter, which ends in November, what they hear is likely to be conservative.

"We're not expecting a lot," said Pacific Crest Securities analyst Brendan Barnicle, who has a neutral rating on Oracle.

Still, Barnicle cautioned, "now there is so much acceptance that they made numbers, there is probably more potential for people to be disappointed in something that's other than positive." His firm hasn't done any banking with Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle.

There are signs from other companies, however, that a huge disappointment is unlikely. For instance, Barnicle points to recent positive comments from

Siebel Systems


CEO Tom Siebel, who said he was "pretty optimistic" about the fourth quarter. And unlike last quarter,




Tibco Software


-- the other two software companies whose quarters end a month earlier than those of most of the sector -- did not preannounce disappointing results.

On the other hand, "If they

Oracle do well and say things are getting better, it's going to be great for the whole sector," added Barnicle, who still expects the company to conservative about the future.

For the first quarter, which ended in August, Oracle forecast that earnings would drop two to three pennies from a year ago, to 6 or 7 cents a share, and that licensing revenue would drop 15% to 25% year over year. The consensus estimate pegs first-quarter earnings at 7 cents a share on $2.06 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. That estimate represents a 9.3% decline in total revenue from the year-ago quarter.

In a note Friday, Merrill Lynch analyst Chris Shilakes suggested that earnings could come in within his estimate of 8 cents a share to beat consensus estimates by a penny, and that revenue would fall slightly under his estimate of $2.07 billion.

"We do not expect these results to materially move the stock," Shilakes said. He has a neutral rating on Oracle, and a member of his team of analysts who cover Oracle owns shares in the company. Merrill Lynch also expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from Oracle within the next three months.

For the second quarter, Wall Street analysts are currently expecting Oracle to register 9 cents a share in earnings on $2.31 billion in revenue. That would be a slight decline from earnings of 10 cents a share on $2.30 billion in revenue posted in the year-ago quarter, which suffered from a drop in business after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and was called the company's "toughest quarter in a decade" by CEO Larry Ellison.

Shilakes said in his note that he believes the outlook for November could remain tempered, capping any near-term spikes in Oracle stock.

Shilakes wrote that sources have told him that Oracle has reduced its head count by 600 to 700 employees in the past three months across all geographies. That would represent less than 2% of the company's overall workforce. Still, "this indicates to us that the environment remains challenging and cost containment remains a focus for the company," Shilakes said in his note.

Oracle spokeswoman Jennifer Glass declined to comment on any specific number of layoffs in the past quarter and said the next employee count will be released with second-quarter results. "Regarding a cumulative number over the past quarter, it would be misleading to talk about any specific numbers," Glass said in an email.