Mark Hurd Takes Center Stage as Oracle Soap Opera Begins

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Oracle's net income swelled 20 percent in the latest quarter as the world's biggest maker of database software prospered from freer technology spending by corporations.
         
    Oracle's results, reported Thursday, come as the company finds itself in a starring role in Silicon Valley's latest soap opera, this one involving Mark Hurd, the ousted chief of Hewlett-Packard. Oracle has scooped Hurd up to help sharpen its attack on its longtime partner HP.

    Hurd's hiring keys up the drama between Oracle and HP at a time when Oracle is muscling into HP's turf by selling computer servers, a business it picked up with the $7.3 billion purchase earlier this year of Sun Microsystems, a struggling server maker and fallen idol of the tech world.

    The theatrics over Hurd's appointment as an Oracle co-president -- a move HP has sued to stop -- have overshadowed the fact that Oracle's core business is thriving because businesses are spending more freely on technologies than they did last year.

    Oracle said Thursday after the market closed that its net income was $1.35 billion, or 27 cents per share, in the three months ended Aug. 31. That compares with $1.1 billion, or 22 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

    Excluding one-time items, earnings in the latest quarter came to 42 cents per share, topping the 37 cents per share that analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected on that same basis.

    Revenue was $7.5 billion, topping the $7.27 billion analysts were expecting. That's a 48 percent improvement from last year, when Oracle raked in $5.05 billion in revenue.

    Oracle has benefited as corporations have pumped up their investments in the programs that run their back offices. Even as layoffs continue and hiring, where it's happening, is happening slowly, companies are pouring money into technologies that make them faster and more efficient.

    Tech budgets were crippled last year in many industries. Although they have thawed since then for many businesses, there are worries that spending will falter amid fears the global economic recovery is sputtering.

    Oracle is a bellwether because its software is ubiquitous but largely hidden from the public's view. It's used to keep bank transactions humming, airplanes landing on time and retailers' shelves stocked with the right amount of merchandise, for example.