After falling short last quarter, Oracle had its work cut out for it when presenting its Q3 FY2012 earnings statement on Tuesday.
Oracle reported a third fiscal quarter net income of $2.5 billion, or 49 cents a share (statement). Non-GAAP earnings were 62 cents a share on a revenue of $9.1 billion.
Wall Street was looking for third quarter earnings of 56 cents a share on revenue of $9.02 billion.
Ahead of the earnings announcement, analysts were debating whether or not Oracle's acquisition strategy is going to work with the cloud as it did for on-premise enterprise applications.
Oracle president Mark Hurd responded in prepared remarks that "Fusion in the Cloud is winning with great success against niche HCM cloud vendors in the US and worldwide," and that Oracle's "modular, integrated platform of 100 apps available in the cloud or on-premise is a key differentiator."
Always one to take on the competition, CEO Larry Ellison compared Oracle Exalytics to SAP's Hana:
This past quarter Oracle delivered the hardware and software for our new extreme-performance Exalytics In-Memory Machine/ At the core of Exalytics is our new in-memory database technology capable of instantaneous big data analysis; questions are answered at the speed of thought.
And unlike SAP's Hana in-memory appliance, Exalytics runs your existing applications. Simply plug-in Exalytics and your existing Oracle Business Intelligence applications and Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management applications run much, much faster.
While speaking on the conference call with investors, Ellison asserted that although SAP -- "not Salesforce.com" -- is considered to be Oracle's biggest competitor, Ellison argued it will take SAP "years to catch up."
Oracle CFO Safra Catz also noted in the statement that "Oracle is on track to deliver the highest operating margins in our history this year...because we are focusing on high margin systems where hardware and software are engineered to work together."
During the call, Catz provided guidance for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2012. Revenue on a non-GAAP basis is expected to grow within a range between 1 and 5 percent, with earnings between 78 cents and 83 cents per share -- up from 75 cents at the same time last year.
Hardware revenue, in particular, is expected to hover between current Q3 levels to as much as $100 million to $110 million more next quarter.
This item first appeared on ZDNet's Between the Lines blog under the headline "Oracle improves with higher Q3 FY12 earnings."