Novell's fiscal first-quarter results were a mixed bag, and Linux invoices fell sharply as the company failed to sign big deals.
For the first quarter, ended Jan. 31, Novell reported non-GAAP earnings of $24 million, or 7 cents a share, on revenue of $215 million. Those results were a penny better than Wall Street estimates. Net income for the first quarter was $11 million, or 3 cents a share.
On the surface, Novell's quarter told a familiar tale. Open platform sales, which are dominated by Linux offerings, were $35 million, up 24 percent from a year ago. Other units had a mixed performance. Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian said that "invoicing was below our expectations in this weak economy."
Our Q1 Linux performance did not meet our expectations as our pipeline coverage and conversion was overly reliant on direct sales and sales cycles lengthened. Going forward, we are focused on building our pipeline with and through partners and we will be aggressive on pricing to gain market share.
Novell CFO Dana Russell noted:
Linux invoicing was $23 million, down 42%. As we have stated before, our Linux business is dependent on large deals which may result in some fluctuations of our quarterly invoicing. This quarter we did not sign any large deals, many of which have been historically fulfilled by Microsoft certificates. Today we have invoiced $199 million or 83% of our original $240 million agreement.
Add it up and it appears that the Microsoft reselling agreement that put Novell's Linux business on the map has played itself out. Meanwhile, an aggressive pricing strategy-for services attached to free software-can't be good for profit margins going forward.