Ellison's mantra: Spend, baby, spend
It may be hell out there, but Oracle's chief tells shareholders the company still intends to shop for more acquisitions.
Stock crash or no, CEO Larry Ellison says that Oracle is sticking to his game plan and that means more acquisitions.
"My feeling is we are better positioned than our peers, the other software companies, to do well in tough times," Ellison said during a question-and-answer session at Oracle's annual shareholders meeting on Friday.
The company has made more than 50 acquisitions in the last 45 months. Despite the massive stock sell-off in the last few weeks, Ellison said Oracle will try to take advantage of the drop in equity prices to pick up acquisitions on the cheap.
"If times are tough, there are other opportunities...including making acquisitions that cost less," he said, adding that "acquisitions that we've been looking at for some time are less expensive for us."
While Ellison did not get specific about his plans, he said Oracle would be interested in buying "small companies that are fast growing" as well as in acquisitions of larger software firms.
The severe battering meted out to technology stocks partly reflected investor concern about a spending falloff by financial firms, traditionally big consumers of IT products and services. Still, Ellison said that he expects Oracle will remain profitable even if times turn tough.
"We've been through this once before when the tech bubble burst...This is quite different, but this management is experienced," he said. Ellison added that Oracle would emerge from the downturn stronger than before, compared with its rivals.
Meanwhile, fellow board member Michael Boskin, who also is an economics professor at Stanford, let it be known to the audience that yes, this is a downturn--and maybe even worse.
"The economy is in a recession," he said, adding that a "financial panic" has compounded the uncertainty about the duration and impact of a slowdown.
He predicted that unemployment will rise and that it "will be unpleasant" for the next few quarters. But echoing Ellison, Boskin said that Oracle was "far better positioned than any other software company" to deal with the expected reduction in capital spending.
Oracle's stock finished the day at $16.68, compared with its 52-week low of $16.