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Oracle's Earnings Soar 80%, Fueled by Database-Software Sales

The company also is gaining a foothold in B2B e-commerce exchanges.

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

easily exceeded Wall Street's expectations Tuesday as its earnings rose 80%, driven by continued revenue growth in the company's flagship database products and applications.

Oracle reported net income of $498 million, or 17 cents per share in the third fiscal quarter ended Feb. 29, excluding one-time gains. That compares with earnings of $277 million, or 9 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

had forecast earnings of 13 cents a share in the latest quarter.

Net revenue for the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company rose to $2.449 billion, from $2.079 billion in the 1999 quarter.

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Oracle said its earnings grew on the back of strong sales and licensing agreements for its database software, which rose 32% during the quarter. The company said 93% of all dot-com companies and 100% of the top Internet sites were using Oracle software products and services.

"Oracle's database and e-business applications have become the software standard for the Internet," Larry Ellison, Oracle chief operating officer, said in a statement.

The company also has been aggressive in building business-to-business e-commerce exchanges, which contributed little to third-quarter earnings, but are expected to increase revenues during the fourth quarter.

"We've really found our way into the world of e-business," said Jeff Henley, Oracle's chief financial officer and executive vice president. He said the company was continuing to realize efficiency gains from its push last year to move many of its own business practices on to the Internet.

Henley said in an interview that the efficiency gains should continue to help the company's earnings. "It isn't finished," he said. "We could have several more quarters of benefit. You create a lot more efficiency with customers and suppliers when you move your business toward self-service."

Indeed, Henley said that the total number of employees at Oracle actually dipped during the fourth quarter, something he said was "unimaginable" in the past.

Including the sale of its 11% holdings of

Liberate Technologies

(LBRT) - Get Report

, Oracle earned $763 million, or 25 cents a share. That compares with total net income of $293 million, or 10 cents per share in the year-earlier period.