When Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL) reported fiscal second-quarter earnings on Thursday evening, the company’s stock price took a 6% hit largely due to less-than-expected revenue growth in its cloud business. The company’s forecast didn’t help either.
Cloud revenue was up 44% in the quarter to $1.52 billion, short of the consensus estimate of $1.56 billion. Licensing revenue (software-as-a-service, or SaaS) came in at $1.12 billion, an increase of 55%, but still a little short of an estimated total of $1.14 billion.
The consensus third-quarter forecast called for cloud revenue to rise 42%, but Oracle CEO Safra Catz said the company expects an increase in the range of 21% to 25%.
Second-quarter adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.70 beat the consensus estimate of $0.68. Oracle’s forecast for third-quarter adjusted EPS came in at $0.68 to $0.70, below the consensus estimate of $0.72 second-quarter EPS.
Analyst reaction was mixed, with some maintaining prior ratings and some issuing downgrades. Jefferies maintained its Buy rating on the stock and its $61 price target. Calling for patience, the firm said:
We understand investor frustration with the uncertainty and inconsistent dynamics of this [bring your own licensing, or BYOL] model as it evolves, but we also believe that we have never witnesse[d] such an aggressive model transition at such scale and at such velocity. Regardless of the coal this represents for some investors at the end of the year (stock was down 6% after hours), we believe the technology will win in this case (specifically, the 12c R2 database cycle, in addition to the Cloud math).
Wedbush analysts maintained their Outperform rating and 12-month price target of $58. They noted:
As we’ve been saying, meaningful acceleration in PaaS/IaaS will probably take several quarters, as ORCL works to gain traction with revamped packaging, pricing, and technology (autonomous database). We’re a little concerned that management’s commentary could create unrealistic expectations among investors about the pace of adoption of autonomous database, as customers generally take many quarters (or even years) to evaluate major new ORCL database technology innovations, even when value-add is significant. However, we’re optimistic that database ELA activity will remain solid, as ORCL benefits from a robust demand environment, a strong competitive position, and greater clarity on their pathway to cloud with their Oracle licenses.
According to Oppenheimer:
Oracle’s F2Q18 cloud results missed Street expectations which resets growth expectations for cloud. The cloud reset could weigh on the company valuation since it reveals Oracle’s cloud business-model transition is taking longer than the Street expected, and resets typically last multiple quarters. Positively, premise-based revenues show decent results from strong ELA renewals, BYOL, and autonomous database traction. Bottom Line: While we commend Oracle’s cloud transition as strategically sound, its efforts to catch up to the public cloud infrastructure vendors may have come too late. We think the strategy will take many years to make up the ground and possibly lead to customer workloads attrition along the way. The consensus may be underestimating the large operating expenditures spend to support the strategy, too. Maintain Perform rating.
Other analysts’ comments and ratings:
- BMO Capital Markets maintained an Outperform rating but lowered its price target from $57 to $55.
- Canaccord Genuity maintained a Buy rating and lowered its price target from $57 to $53.
- JPMorgan reiterated an Overweight rating and $55 price target.
- KeyBanc Capital Markets maintained an Overweight rating but cut the price target from $61 to $56.
- RBC Capital downgraded it from Outperform to Sector Perform and cut its target from $53 to $51.
Shares traded down about 4.6% in Friday’s premarket session at $47.90, after closing Thursday at $50.19, in a 52-week range of $38.30 to $53.14. The consensus 12-month price target was $56.30 before the earnings report.