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Oracle says 'We're flatter than PeopleSoft'

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Oracle's strong fourth quarter results have given rise to another wave of rhetoric from Larry Ellison in pitching the PeopleSoft takeover bid.

Oracle saw net income swell to $858 million in the fourth quarter - a 31 percent jump over the $656 million reported in the same period last year.

The rise in net income appears to show that Oracle is running a tight ship. Total revenue edged up 2 percent year-on-year to $2.83 billion, but the only major gains in the quarter came from software license updates and support. This business pulled in $1.1 billion - a 12 percent increase from Q4 2002.

New software licenses brought in just 1 percent more revenue this quarter to $1.2 billion and services fell 11 percent to $580 million.

Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison, however, was happy with the flatness of things.

"For the quarter our applications new software license revenues were flat at $246 million," Ellison said in a statement. "Many of our major competitors showed significant license revenue decline in their most recently reported quarter."

It doesn't take the Amazing Kreskin to guess what Larry said next.

"For instance, in PeopleSoft's most recent quarter their applications new license revenues decreased 39 percent to $80 million. We believe that our growth and PeopleSoft's decline resulted in part from an increase in our competitive win rate over PeopleSoft, and the fact that we are beginning to replace PeopleSoft at a number of major accounts."

PeopleSoft uses a different set of metrics. By its account, PeopleSoft has the stronger business, which is precisely why Oracle wants to buy it for $5.1 billion.

Decent earnings aside, some industry watchers are concerned about the amount of cash Oracle will need to complete its hostile takeover. Moody's Investors Service downgraded Oracle to "negative," saying problems could arise should Oracle need to increase its bid and not be able to offset PeopleSoft's revenue losses.

For its full fiscal year, Oracle's net income rose 4 percent to $2.31 billion on revenue of $9.5 billion - a decline of 2 percent from 2002. ®

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