Oracle Sinks to New Low as Another Executive Quits - TheStreet

Shares of

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

fell to a 52-week low Tuesday amid the departure of another senior executive and worries of the firm missing its fourth-quarter numbers.

Shares of Oracle fell 39 cents, or 3.7%, to close at $10.04, falling below the previous 52-week low of $10.16. Shares rebounded slightly in after-hours trading to $10.10.

Other enterprise software makers such as

Siebel Systems

(SEBL)

,

PeopleSoft

(PSFT)

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

rose Tuesday.

Sebastian Gunningham, senior vice president of Oracle product industries and Latin America sales, has decided to leave the company to take a position with a small software company in Miami, where he has been based, says Oracle spokesman Jim Finn. "He's making a lifestyle change to cut back on his travel," Finn said.

George Roberts, executive vice president for North America sales, will take over Oracle product industries, while Luiz Meisler, who formerly reported to Gunningham, will take over his role and report directly to CEO Larry Ellison.

Finn said Gunningham's move had nothing to do with Oracle's performance in the manufacturing sector, whose revenue the company does not break down. Gunningham will remain with Oracle until May 31, Finn said.

Still, the news of yet another executive departure raised concerns on Wall Street. In June 2000, President Ray Lane left the company; he later cited differences with Ellison. He was followed in November 2000 by Gary Bloom, until then considered Ellison's heir apparent, who left to take the top spot at Silicon Valley neighbor

Veritas Software

(VRTS) - Get Report

.

Then, Executive Vice President Sandy Sanderson said in August that he would take a leave of absence for health reasons.

Jay Nussbaum, formerly an executive vice president responsible for the company's service industries business,

departed at the end of last year to work at

KPMG

(KCIN)

.

And on Monday, Bloom announced nine-year Oracle veteran Jeremy Burton has defected to become the first chief marketing officer of Veritas.

"I think anytime you hear of a senior salesperson leaving in the middle of the quarter, that always raises an eyebrow," said Ian Morton, an analyst at JPMorgan H&Q, who has a long-term buy on Oracle. "It's a challenging environment -- for Oracle and to be in charge of delivering big sales numbers."

Indeed, Morton said he believes the news of Gunningham's departure added fuel to growing concerns about the company not making its fourth quarter, which ends in May. The consensus estimate calls for Oracle to report $2.8 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. That's a 15.4% decrease from the same quarter a year ago. But that number still may be hard to meet because it's a 23.9% increase from the third quarter.

Oracle posted disappointing third-quarter results and has suffered a decline in year-over-year revenue for each of the three quarters in fiscal year 2002.

Morton noted that the fourth quarter is seasonally strong for Oracle but it may be too early to call just how much Oracle could miss by because so much business is done in the last few weeks of the quarter.