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Analysts applaud Oracle's strong quarter

Shares of the software maker rise 5 percent after the company meets analyst estimates for its second quarter and receives positive reviews from analysts.

    Shares of Oracle rose 4 percent Friday after the company met analyst estimates for its second quarter and received positive reviews from analysts.

    The software giant's stock closed regular trading up $1.19 to $28.69.

    After the market closed Thursday, Oracle bucked the recent trend in the slumping technology sector by posting strong quarterly results. The company came in with second-quarter profit of $623 million, or 11 cents a share, topping analyst estimates by a penny. The results were up from the $384 million, or 6 cents per share, seen in the same period a year ago.

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    Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle
    Revenue rose as well, up from $2.3 billion in the 1999 quarter to $2.7 billion this year.

    Oracle's database software business grew 19 percent year over year, just missing analyst targets, coming in at $775 million. The company's applications business, however, was very strong, jumping 66 percent to $279 million, outpacing analyst estimates.

    The bullish outlook for the Redwood City, Calif.-based company was evident in the comments of chief financial officer Jeff Henley, who noted that Oracle's business isn't greatly affected by the PC slowdown. "It's important to point out that not all technology companies are the same," he said.

    For the most part, analysts seem to agree. The stock held its rating at a host of brokerages, and some analysts raised their estimates.

    At Deutsche Banc Alex Brown, analyst James A. Moore reiterated his "strong buy" rating on the stock.

    Wendell H. Laidley at Credit Suisse First Boston also reiterated his "strong buy" and his 12-month price target of $48 for Oracle. He also raised estimates for fiscal years 2001 and 2002. In a research note, Laidley highlighted the company's strong licensing, database and applications revenues.

    "We believe these results were solidly better than published expectations and should be strong enough to convince the skeptics that (Oracle's) products business is capable of greatness," he added.

    Goldman Sachs also maintained its rating of "buy" along with the company's revenue and earnings estimates for fiscal years 2001 and 2002. Goldman praised the company's performance, highlighting the company's growing traction in the applications market, solid growth in the core database business and operating margins.

    The brokerage, however, noted that slower capital spending may hit applications growth more than the company anticipates.

    Jim Pickrel at Chase Hambrecht & Quist maintained his "buy" rating and target price of $35. Revenue estimates were unchanged, while earnings estimates were raised for fiscal years 2001 and 2002.