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Cloud power plant SAP closes 2011 on a high

HANA in-memory appliance off with a bang

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Application software giant SAP turned in the best fourth quarter and the best financial year in its 40-year history, thanks in part to reviving software sales and the better-than-expected uptake of its HANA in-memory database appliances. And because the numbers were better than expected, SAP is giving a preview of the full financial results, which it will divulge in full on January 25.

In the fourth quarter ended in December, SAP's revenues rose 11 per cent to €4.5bn. Software revenues rose by 16 per cent, to €1.74bn, and if you do the math on the preliminary figures SAP put out, it means services and support revenues relating to its various applications and systems software rose by 14 per cent to just under €2bn. That means other revenues were down a smidgen to around €780m. Operating profits during Q4 were €1.67bn, more than triple from the prior year's quarter.

For the full year, SAP's sales were €14.23bn, an increase of 14 per cent over 2010's sales, with €3.97bn in software sales, up 22 per cent. (The critics will note that SAP's software sales slowed down in the fourth quarter.) Service and support for SAP's software brought in €7.35bn, up 12.7 per cent, and other revenues rose by 9 per cent to around €2.91bn. Operating profits for the full year came to €4.88bn, up 88 per cent over 2010's levels. That does not take into account the €720m SAP had to set aside for its ongoing lawsuit settlement with Oracle over the long-defunct TomorrowNow third-party tech support provider for Oracle apps.

The falling euro clipped SAP's revenues by about a point in Q4 and by three points in all of 2011; in constant currency, SAP did a bit better.

SAP said in a statement that with double-digit growth, it outgrew the competition: that means you, Oracle. In its most recent quarter ended in November 2011, Oracle's sales were only up 2 per cent, to $8.79bn, significantly lower than the 5 to 9 per cent growth Oracle had been expecting due to flagging hardware sales and a very tough compare on the software front.

The good news for SAP is that its HANA in-memory database appliance, which was announced last May and which started shipping in June, was targeted to bring in €100m in 2011 and in fact, says SAP, it raked in €160m. The company added that it had over €100m for mobile application products in 2011, slightly higher than expected. ®

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