In case you're the last investor out there who hasn't heard yet:


(ORCL) - Get Report

all-important fiscal fourth quarter, which ends in a week, is not going very well.

That's the call from analyst Jim Pickrel of

JPMorgan H&Q

, who pulled down his estimates Friday after "channel checks" revealed little in the way of good news. While customers are starting to buy software again, putting ink to contracts is still a chore and deal sizes are smaller. And yes, says Pickrel, Oracle is discounting, despite claims to the contrary made by company executives.

Of course, none of this comes as much of a surprise. Analysts all over Wall Street have already taken a whack at their estimates for Oracle's fiscal fourth quarter. The only suspense, it seems, is just how bad Oracle will miss when it reports results next month.

That partially explains investors' rather blase reaction to today's takedown by Pickrel. Shares in Oracle were off 71 cents, or 4%, to $16.59 in Friday trading. As

examined by

previously, at these levels, the database giant trades at just 32 times fiscal 2002 earnings, cheaper than software rivals like

Siebel Systems



i2 Technologies






In his report, Pickrel lowers fourth-quarter revenue estimates to $3.28 billion from $3.6 billion. He also cut earnings estimates for the quarter to 13 cents a share from 15 cents a share.

At the new levels, Pickrel sees database revenue falling 6% from the prior year and application sales falling 5%.

Pickrel's earnings estimates for the quarter are 1 cent below current consensus estimates of 14 cents a share, compiled by

Thomson Financial/First Call


"Even more than the normally high level of last-week activity is taking place, and only a flurry of positive, last-minute good news could drive numbers towards current consensus levels," he writes. Pickrel rates Oracle a long-term strong buy. His firm doesn't do banking for the company.

While Pickrel sees rough sledding ahead for at least the next two quarters, he likes Oracle in the long term.

"We believe the Oracle juggernaut has hit several rough spots, but if management stays focused, the franchise can emerge intact," he writes.