After this quarter, Oracle must adore Ben Bernanke

A strengthening U.S. dollar played a big role in undercutting Q2 results. The Fed's latest moves may offer relief in the current and future quarters.

When Ben Bernanke and his fellow board governors at the Federal Reserve took the benchmark federal funds rate down from 1 percent to a record low of 0 percent to 0.25 percent, Larry Ellison had to be relieved.

"Larry, I feel your pain" Federal Reserve

Not that the big guy is in need of a lower mortgage rate for a new tea house. But he sure as hell is anxious to see a lower U.S. dollar.

In the second quarter, Oracle's earnings got pinched because of the greenback's surprising resurgence, particularly in November. The company's profit declined to $1.296 billion, down from $1.303 billion during the same period a year earlier. Sales increased by 6 percent to $5.61 billion, but that would have suggested a 12 percent increase at constant currency rates.

The same applies to the company's software revenue. That number climbed 8 percent, while services revenue dropped a couple of percentage points. The same figures at fixed exchange rates increased 14 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

About half of the company's revenue comes from overseas customers and that's where the dollar's strength in the second quarter took a bite out of Oracle's bottom line. With the Fed's aggressive rate cut on Tuesday, currency traders expect a weaker dollar, which theoretically, will help U.S. exports.

During a conference call late today, Oracle's braintrust--CEO Larry Ellison, co-presidents Safra Catz and Chuck Phillips, and CFO Jeff Epstein--played down the impact of the recession on the company's business. Though not altogether.

Ellison did note that customers are signing fewer multi-year, multi-hundred million dollar projects, "though we get those also," he said.

Meanwhile, the company, famous for orchestrating some of the biggest software acquisitions of the last decade, said the global economic slowdown had not put the kibosh on future deal making. Ellison said Oracle would be opportunistic in niche segments. He added that the company would consider making a large acquisition "if the price is right."

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About the author

Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.

 

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