Washington Oracle Corp., the world's second largest software maker, joined the list of technology companies blaming delays in spending by its customers for weak earnings.
Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle said preliminary figures show it earned 10 cents a share in the fiscal third quarter ended Wednesday. Analysts were expecting earnings of 12 cents. In the corresponding year-ago quarter, Oracle earned 8 cents a share.
"License growth was strong in the first two months of the third quarter, and our internal sales forecast looked good up until the last few days of the quarter," said Larry Ellison, Oracle's chief executive officer. "However, a substantial number of our customers decided to delay their IT spending based on the economic slowdown in the United states."
Ellison said sales growth remained strong in Europe and Asia.
"The problem is the U.S. economy," he said.
According to preliminary results, operating margins were 33 percent, an increase from 31 percent a year earlier. The firm said it took a 4 percent charge from currency exchanges. Total revenue growth in the third quarter was estimated at 9 percent; license revenue was expected to rise 6 percent.
Oracle said that revenue from its database business was expected to be flat or slightly decline during the quarter, while revenue from the applications business is expected to grow by 50 percent.
The company will release a complete set of final numbers on March 15, Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Henley said.
"With continued uncertainty in the economy, we can't predict when sales growth will improve," Henley added.
Shares of Oracle finished the regular trading session at $21.38, but were sinking in after-hours activity and were last reported at $17.63.