Investors are not happy with Oracle right now and it cost its co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison, close to $US2 billion on Friday.
Ellison is Oracle’s largest shareholder with over 1 billion shares, a 25% stake. So he gets hurt when the stock drops as it did by about 4% on Friday.
That’s because Oracle reported yet another weaker-than-expected quarter on Thursday.
It was a miss on both revenue and profit.
The big surprise was that Ellison was relinquishing the title of CEO. He will henceforth be known as executive chairman and CTO. His right-hand woman, Safra Catz, and right-hand man, Mark Hurd, both presidents, would be elevated to co-CEOs.
The news was shocking only because Ellison, 70, had never even hinted at a retirement or a succession plan before.
The truth is, the title change was only a gesture. All three execs will continue to their jobs exactly the same. Catz said point blank on the quarterly conference call with analysts when asked about the shakeup, “There will actually be no changes, no significant changes.”
Bill Kreher, technology analyst for Edward Jones, told Business Insider: “Mark and Safra have worked closely with Larry for a long time, doing a lot of executive duties anyhow. This is Larry’s way of giving them proper recognition for all the work they have done and letting them know they have got long-term job security. He’s not out looking for the next CEO outside of Oracle.”
Ellison will still be on quarterly conference calls with analysts too.
When Wells Fargo Jason Maynard told Ellison he’d miss him on the calls, Ellison got a big laugh with his reply, “You should be so lucky. I am staying on the calls.”
In the meantime, investors want to know what Oracle is really doing to fix its sluggish business. Deutsche Bank downgraded Oracle on Friday from buy to hold, citing the “decelerated … health of its core database business” and said it was “disappointed in hardware product sales (down 14%)”
While JMP Group didn’t downgrade the stock, it did lower its profit estimate, saying, “We feel that Oracle is facing significant challenges both in its core database and its applications businesses.”
Market research firm Forrester was even sharper-tongued. In a research note published on Friday, it said, “The root causes of Oracle’s challenges remain in place.”
Forrester thinks the company needs to move faster on the cloud and “eliminate barriers” for that change including a “sprawling” number of software products; trying to get its hardware business going; and “Oracle’s sales culture focuses account managers on hitting short-term targets often at the expense of delivering long-term customer value.”
Oracle isn’t in dire straits. Although it fell short of expectations, total revenue was up 3% to $US8.6 billion over the year-ago quarter.
And Oracle did show progress with the cloud. Cloud revenue was up 32% to $US337 million. But that’s a drop in the bucket to what Oracle makes on its traditional software licenses: $US1.37 billion in the quarter. And it’s far behind competitor Salesforce.com, who only sells software via the cloud. Salesforce.com had revenue of $US1.32 billion in its last quarter.
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