Analyst Note Questioned Status of Oracle CFO

Oracle's stock plunges after a financial analyst pondered the status of CFO and co-president Greg Maffei, saying that he had been AWOL. Oracle announced later in the day that Maffei had indeed resigned.

Oracle Corp.s stock plunged up to 5.8 percent on Thursday as a financial analyst pondered the status of CFO and co-president Greg Maffei. Oracle announced later in the day that Maffei had indeed resigned.

"…Greg Maffei has been away for over two weeks now, leading to the cancellation of the companys analyst meeting on Oct. 24 and an appearance at the GS Software Conference in New York next week," wrote Rick Sherlund, a Goldman Sachs analyst, in a note to clients.

In the note, titled "Growing Questions Regarding Status of CFO," Sherlund said that he has "grown increasingly convinced that there are legitimate questions regarding Mr. Maffeis status at the company."

In the note, Sherlund said that Oracle postponed last weeks analysts day after the CFO went AWOL.

Then this week, oddly enough, Oracle co-president Charles Phillips made no reference to Maffei during an investment conference held on Wednesday, Sherlund said.

"Last night … Phillips at an investor conference made no reference to Mr. Maffei when talking about how the company is managed, referring to himself, Safra Catz and Larry Ellison (oddly making no mention of co-president and CFO Mr. Maffei) and then in discussing the finance department noted the depth and experience of individuals in this department, with 10 people in the finance department that have been at the company 15 years or longer," Sherlund said.

"Again we find it odd there was no mention of the CFO Mr. Maffei, who runs this department.

Phillip then responded directly to a question on whether Mr. Maffei was committed to Oracle, saying that he could not speak for Mr. Maffei, that at some point Mr. Maffei would need to comment for himself, Sherlund wrote, and that Mr. Phillips "did not want to talk further on the issue."

"Our calls to Mr. Maffei have not been returned," Sherlund said.

Maffei is a veteran of Microsoft Corp., where he managed the companys $35 billion cash and strategic investment portfolio.

He took the job of Oracle CFO after Harry You left to take a position as CEO at BearingPoint Inc.

Safra Catz filled in as CFO between Yous departure and Maffeis arrival, a mere four months ago.

Maffeis rational for leaving Oracle on such short notice is a "terrific professional opportunity," according to a statement released by Oracle.

You also left the company in lieu of a better opportunity—CEO of BearingPoint Inc.

Oracles shares fell following the release of Sherlunds note, but they recovered from their bottom level to stand recently at about $12.04, off 44 cents, or 3.5 percent.

Sherlund said that Goldman Sachs still believes that the fundamentals of Oracle are intact, and issued no change in its rating of Oracle stock.


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