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Ellison: Fourth quarter on target

Oracle will meet Wall Street estimates for fourth-quarter earnings, its CEO says, ending speculation that the database giant might have to announce a profit warning.

    REDWOOD SHORES, Calif.--Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison on Wednesday said the database giant will meet Wall Street estimates for its fourth-quarter earnings, ending speculation that the company might have to announce a profit warning this week.

    Ellison, who called analysts' speculation that the company would miss its numbers "irresponsible," said the company will at least meet analysts' predictions for a profit of 12 cents per share on revenue of $2.6 billion for the fourth quarter, which ended May 31. Oracle will report its results for the period on June 18.

    Ellison declined to give a more specific estimate. "We are in a quiet period, but I can say this: Had we not done at least 12 cents of earnings of operating income, we would have had to warn...and we didn't warn," Ellison said during a press conference at Oracle's headquarters here to launch the company's newest 9i database.

    Ellison also said the company has no immediate plans to announce additional layoffs. The company, which has about 40,000 employees, cut 200 positions last week.

    Earlier this week, some analysts speculated that the company might miss earnings or announce significant employee layoffs. The database software maker has also been caught in a controversy over a contract with the state of California, and has been facing stiffer competition from IBM and Microsoft.

    Ellison chided Wall Street analysts, saying they were "irresponsible" for speculating that the company is scrambling around for last-minute sales and won't be close to profit projections.

    "They're wildly irresponsible (with the stock market) on the way up. Now they're being wildly irresponsible on the way down," he said.

    Ellison reiterated his belief that the contract with California is a good one for the state. He has claimed that the state would save more than $100 million by using Oracle software.

    "The deal with the state of California is a fabulous deal for the state," he said.

    California and Oracle are trying to cancel the contract, for which the first payment is due in September.

    "We don't think it's a great idea for the state to rescind the deal, but we are very willing to rescind the deal," Ellison said.