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Ghost of Christmas past haunts Oracle despite impressive revenue growth

Payment over Mark Hurd dispute hits figures as Ellison bigs up cloud ERP

Oracle sales increased nearly 6 per cent to hit $10.4bn in its Q2 results for fiscal 2022, but the company made a loss due in part to a dispute relating to a former CEO.

Big Red's cloud services and licence support revenues were up 6 per cent to $7.6bn while cloud and on-premises licence revenues increased 13 per cent, hitting $1.2bn for the three months ended 30 November. Hardware dropped 9 per cent to $767m and Services climbed 8 per cent to $802m.

The growth impressed the market. Analysts had expected sales of around $10.2bn and that $200m difference led investors to instigate a 6 per cent hike in stock value in extended trading yesterday.

But the results were marred by litigation charges related to a ten-year-old dispute over former CEO Mark Hurd's employment, contributing to an operating loss of $824m. Hurd, who died in 2019, was recruited from Hewlett Packard. In 2010, the companies settled a legal dispute over Big Red's hiring of the executive, who had already marked out a controversial career.

Oracle said in its results statement that acquisition related and other costs for the quarter included the "impact of litigation related charges totalling $4.7bn".

During a conference call with analysts, CTO and leading industry bigmouth Larry Ellison was on a rant once more about Oracle's growth – and potential to grow – in its ERP applications in the cloud.

He claimed 35,500 cloud ERP customers were new to Oracle. "Only 1,000 of our on-premise install base has migrated so far." Cloud ERP would grow by 30 per cent a year, he predicted.

That might be impressive but it is far from unique. SAP's cloud revenue was up 20 per cent in its last results. Workday, which only makes cloud products, saw a 20 per cent increase in revenue in its third quarter. Unit4, a private company that does not report results in the same way, also saw cloud subscription revenue increase 27 per cent in its most recent numbers.

Research group Megabyte pointed out that Oracle's application subscriptions grew 8 per cent to $3.1bn, hitting the highest growth rate in four years and reflecting strong growth in Fusion applications.

"Cloud bookings are growing faster than Cloud revenues, which should lead to an acceleration in Cloud revenue growth," it said.

Angela Eager, research director at TechMarketView, said: "The ability to attract new customers to the cloud ERP portfolio is an important proof point for the company and its ambitions are buoyed up by its progress." ®

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