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Oracle to Cut 2,000 Jobs; Guidance Is In Line

The software maker says sales and earnings will roughly meet estimates.


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on Thursday announced that sales and earnings would grow at close to the expected pace in the third and fourth quarters and that it would cut 2,000 jobs as a result of its

acquisition of rival business software maker Siebel Systems.

More than half of the jobs will be culled from the ranks of current Oracle employees, bringing total employment down to about 55,000.

Excluding items, Oracle now expects to earn a profit of 18 cents a share, about a penny less than Wall Street had forecast. Sales will range from $3.5 billion to $3.55 billion, compared with the $3.4 billion forecast by analysts polled by Thomson First Call.

However, many of the estimates published by First Call did not include revenue or expenses associated with the Siebel acquisition. When backed out, results roughly appeared in line, analysts said.

Oracle CFO Safra Catz, who emphasized that the guidance is preliminary, said that Siebel is expected to contribute only $10 million or less to the company's revenue in the current quarter.

Any upside for the rest of the year will likely come from Oracle's core database and middleware business, said CEO Larry Ellison.

In the fourth quarter, Oracle expects non-GAAP earnings of 26 cents to 28 cents a share, on sales ranging from $4.46 billion to $4.62 billion. Analysts were looking for 27 cents a share with revenue of $4.34 billion.

The $5.85 billion Siebel acquisition closed at the end of January; earlier, Oracle acquired a basketful of software companies, including


-- which itself took over

J.D. Edwards

-- and


. The bill for the shopping spree totaled about $13 billion when cash on hand is subtracted from the total.

Most of the buys focused on software applications and were designed to strengthen the database giant's relatively weak applications business and bolster its bottom line.

The additional profit is possible because Oracle is able to squeeze redundant costs from the acquired companies and harvest ongoing maintenance revenue at minimal cost.

Shares of Oracle were recently down 7 cents to $12.62 in after-hours trade.