Earnings up at Oracle

UPDATED: Oracle on Thursday reported that database sales were booming; Ellison says enterprises are catching the grid computing bug.

Notching another strong financial statement, database giant Oracle Corp. on Thursday reported that net income and revenue in its fiscal third quarter both increased year-over-year.

Net income for the quarter, ended Feb. 29, was $635 million, up 11 percent from $571 million for the third quarter of Oracles 2003 fiscal year. Third-quarter revenue jumped 9 percent to $2.5 billion, up from $2.3 billion for the year-ago period. Software licenses sales jumped year-over-year 12 percent to $847 million, while services fell 11 percent to $486 million.

During the quarter Oracle released Oracle 10g, a major upgrade of its enterprise database that is marketed as a platform for grid computing. The companys earnings growth was fueled by Oracles database business, which grew 16 percent, said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, in a statement. Additionally, sales of the databases RAC (Real Application Clusters) option soared 86 percent.

"This is very important because RAC is what customers buy when theyre building database grids," said Ellison. "Rapid RAC growth indicates rapid acceptance of Oracle10gs high-performance, high-reliability grid capabilities."

Oracle has 3,500 RAC customers right now, Oracle officials said on a conference call with press and analysts

Although database sales surged in the quarter, Oracles enterprise application endeavors have gotten more attention in recent months, particularly as the Redwood Shores, Calif., companys hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft Inc. has dragged on.

Shortly after Oracle launched its bid last June, the U.S. Department of Justice, more than half of the nations state attorneys general and the European Commission launched antitrust investigations. On Feb. 26, the DOJ and seven states filed suit to block the controversial deal.

A decision from the European Commission is expected May 11, while the remainder of the state attorneys general have not declared their intentions in the deal.

Oracle and the DOJ are scheduled to go to trial in June.

As for other potential acquisitions, Ellison reaffirmed in the conference call that, regardless of how the PeopleSoft bid turns out, Oracle will continue shopping.

"PeopleSoft was the first, but there are a number of other acquisitions were looking at," he said during the call. "Were not going to become the software equivalent of [conglomerate General Electric], but were looking."

Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from a press conference with analysts.

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