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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 22:57 GMT
Oracle disappoints investors
Larry Ellison, Oracle chief executive
Larry Ellison has seen his fortune drop
The world's second largest software company, Oracle, has disappointed Wall Street with its latest earnings figures.

The company said that its third-quarter earnings dropped to $508m, or 9 cents per share, compared to $583m, or 10 cents per share, for the same period last year.

The results were in line with expectations, as the company warned earlier that weak sales in Asia would cause per-share earnings to fall a penny short of its original forecast.

But analysts worried that sales, as opposed to profits, were even softer, pointing to a reluctance by Oracle's corporate clients to spend heavily on new software.

License revenues, which comes from software sales and is a gauge of future performance, slipped to $790 million from $1.1 billion a year ago.

Total sales dropped to $2.2 billion from $2.7 billion for the same quarter last year.

"It's very sluggish and doesn't seem yet to be showing signs of recovery," Oracle Chief Financial Officer Jeff Henley said.

Shares hit

Oracle shares finished Thursday's regular Nasdaq session down 45 cents, about 3% percent, at $13.44.

The stock dipped to $13.04, another 6%, in extended trade on Instinet following the release of its results.

Oracle's CEO, Larry Ellison, one of the world's richest men, has seen his fortune plummet as a result - to $23.5bn, according to Forbes magazine.

The software giant's fight for market share, in a business where its main competitors include the computer firms Microsoft and IBM, is still extremely tough.

Shares in the company have fallen almost 50% during 2001, and even further this year.

Only in January, Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison was telling the world that the worst was over for the high-tech industry. "Things have already stabilised," Mr Ellison told the BBC, insisting Oracle appeared to have been the "overwhelming winner" in its key database markets.

See also:

01 Mar 02 | Business
The rich get poorer
04 Mar 02 | Business
Oracle warning prompts share slump
14 Dec 01 | Business
Oracle profits fall
10 Feb 00 | Microsoft
Larry Ellison: A profile
10 Feb 00 | Microsoft
Oracle: A brief history
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