There appears to be a heated race among the top cloud players to get to the $10 billion mark. Salesforce.com has always boasted of how it will be the first company to reach that mark. But in the recent result announcements, its rival Oracle (NYSE: ORCL), proclaimed that it could very well be the first one instead.
Oracle’s fourth quarter revenues were down 1% over the year to $10.6 billion, but were ahead of the analyst estimates of $10.46 billion. The decline in the revenue was attributed to currency movements. Excluding currency impact, revenues would have come in flat for the quarter. EPS came in at $0.81 for the quarter, marginally shy of the Street’s forecast of $0.82.
By segment, Oracle’s software sold as cloud service and Platform-as-a-Service grew 66% over the year to $690 million. Infrastructure-as-a-Service revenues grew 5% to $169 million, translating to total cloud revenue growth of 49% to $859 million. New software licenses revenue fell 12% at $2.766 billion and hardware product revenue declined 11% to $725 million. Software license updates and product support revenues increased 3% over the year to $4.814 billion. Hardware support revenues fell 5% to $558 million and total services revenues fell 3% to $872 million.
During the quarter, Oracle repurchased 49 million shares for a total of $2 billion.
It ended the year with revenues falling 3% to $37 billion and EPS declining 6% to $2.07.
For the current quarter, Oracle forecast revenues of $8.62 billion-$8.87 billion on a constant currency basis, compared with the market’s forecast of $8.62 billion. It expects to report an EPS of $0.56-$0.60 compared with the Street’s estimated EPS of $0.59.
Oracle and the Cloud
For Oracle, it is all about the cloud. Recently, a former employee filed a case against Oracle claiming that Oracle made her sugar coat the numbers for cloud computing. Oracle has, obviously, denied such wrong doing and has claimed that the numbers are on the conservative side.
“Now, as regard to our cloud revenue accounting, we have reviewed it carefully and are completely confident that it is a 100% accurate and if anything slightly conservative. You can also see the continuing revenue acceleration of our cloud business in the SaaS and PaaS billings and deferred revenue. The gross deferred revenue balance is now nearly $1.4 billion, up 64% in U.S. dollars. SaaS and PaaS billings grew 38% in U.S. dollars this quarter.”
Meanwhile, both Oracle and Salesforce are competing to win the race to be the first company to get to the $10 billion cloud computing revenue mark. Salesforce is by far ahead of Oracle right now as it ended last fiscal with $6.7 billion in cloud revenues. Oracle, even with its strong growth, ended the recent fiscal with $2.2 billion in Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service revenue. But Oracle still thinks that it has a “fighting chance”.
For the cynics, Oracle dispels their doubts by pointing out two key factors about its cloud business. First, that it is growing at a much faster pace than competitors due to its SaaS portfolio. Oracle reported a 66% growth in SaaS and PaaS revenues while Salesforce reported a 24% increase last year. Oracle expects to grow 75%-80% next year and Salesforce projected a 22%-23% growth. While some may attribute it to a higher base that Salesforce has, Oracle thinks otherwise.
Over the past, Oracle has seen that as the business is scaling up, the growth rates are increasing. Oracle is one of the few big players that offers ERP, HCM, and marketing offerings on the cloud. It is also the only player in supply chain and manufacturing. Salesforce, on the other hand, is focused mainly on sales automation and customer experience. Finally, Oracle is also growing its Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud offering where it is seeing a lot of interest from both existing SaaS customers, new SaaS customers, and from its database customers.
Its stock is currently trading at $40.93 with a market cap of $168.74 billion. It touched a 52-week high of $42.00 in March this year and a 52-week low of $33.13 in January this year.