Financial Performance

Market Sees Clouds Over Oracle’s Cloud Future

The company's shares drop more than 7% after its guidance for fourth-quarter cloud revenue misses analysts' expectations.
Matthew HellerMarch 20, 2018

Oracle shares fell sharply in after-hours trading amid renewed investor concerns that the growth of its cloud business is slowing.

The company has shifted to the cloud amid the sustained decline of its legacy software licensing business. But on Monday, it posted mixed results for the third quarter and co-CEO Safra Catz provided a fourth-quarter outlook for total cloud sales that was short of expectations.

Oracle earned 83 cents per share, excluding items, in the third quarter on revenue of $9.77 billion, compared with analysts’ estimates of 72 cents per share in earnings on revenue of $9.78 billion.

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Total cloud revenue rose 32% to $1.56 billion, with cloud software as a service (SaaS) up 33% to $1.15 billion and cloud platform as a service (PaaS) plus infrastructure as a service (IaaS) revenue up 28% to $415 million. The segment accounted for 16% of total revenue, up from 12% a year ago.

For the fourth quarter, Catz said in an earnings call that Oracle was projecting growth in total cloud sales of 19% to 23% year-over-year, but analysts on average were expecting growth of more than 27%.

In Monday’s extended trading session, Oracle shares dropped 7.1% to $48.22. When it issued lower-than-expected, second-quarter guidance for the cloud segment in September, the stock fell more than 7%.

By contrast, market-leading cloud infrastructure provider Amazon Web Services had $5.11 billion in revenue, with 45% revenue growth, in its most recent quarter.

“Our cloud SaaS applications business is rapidly approaching $5 billion … and it’s still early days,” Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd said in a news release.

“Less than 15% of our on-premise applications customers have begun to migrate their applications to the cloud,” he added. “As the other 85% of our applications customers start to move their applications to the cloud, we have a huge opportunity in front of us. We expect to more than double the size of our SaaS business very quickly.”

Revenue from the legacy on-premise software business rose only 4% to $6.41 billion in the third quarter.