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chief financial officer on Tuesday reiterated his earlier forecast for the current quarter, saying the world's second-largest software company has likely seen the low point of the downturn.

Speaking at


analyst day, CFO Jeff Henley and CEO Larry Ellison also took a few predictable potshots at


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and other rivals for the company's core database market.

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Henley stood by the guidance he provided in Oracle's November earnings call for Oracle's third quarter, ending Feb. 28, including earnings of 10 cents a share, flat over the year-ago quarter, and earnings of 17 cents to 18 cents for the fourth quarter.

"We really think this will be the low point," Henley said, referring to second-quarter earnings, the worst in his 11 years at Oracle. The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company earned $549 million, or 10 cents per share, on total revenue of $2.36 billion in the second quarter. That was compared with 11 cents per share on $2.66 billion in revenue in the year-earlier quarter.

Oracle's operating margin, Henley pointed out, has remained strong, at 36% in the second quarter. "The only software company out there in our space that has better margins is


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and we'd all love to be a monopoly," he said, in one of many barbs against rivals that peppered the analysts meeting.

Henley said he believes a 40% margin is within reach but declined to stand by CEO Larry Ellison's 50% target. "That's Larry's target," he said. "What I said and Larry used to say -- but Larry always gets ahead of me -- we both felt we could get 40 or above."

But Henley said the company will not reach that goal until there's a return of "more normal demand." And that's a ways off for Oracle. "I don't believe we'll be back to a normal economy, normal demand for another year," Henley said.

Henley attributed the company's lackluster performance, including a 10% decline in its core database business in the second quarter, to the economy, dot-com implosion, and shift of customers to Oracle's cheaper standard edition product.

Henley and Ellison questioned whether the company is losing share to IBM and Microsoft. Ellison challenged IBM to produce dollar figures for database sales and the names of customers who have passed over Oracle for its competing database product and said IBM runs Oracle to demonstrate its fastest machine.