Oracle Falls After Reporting Slower Growth in Cloud Sales

(Bloomberg) — Oracle Corp. reported cloud sales growth that slowed in the quarter, dimming enthusiasm about the software maker’s expansion efforts in competitive market. The shares declined about 5% in extended trading.

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Cloud revenue, a growth bet that is closely watched by investors, jumped 30% to $4.6 billion. Of that, $1.5 billion came from renting computing power and storage over the internet and $3.1 billion from applications. That cloud growth rate was slower than the 54% jump in the previous quarter.

Total sales increased 9% to $12.5 billion in the fiscal first quarter, the company said Monday in a statement. Analysts, on average, estimated $12.5 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit, excluding some items, was $1.19 a share, compared with the average estimate of $1.15.

The Austin, Texas-based company, known for its database software, is focused on expanding its cloud infrastructure business to more forcefully compete with Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Investors have been increasingly hopeful that a surge in demand for artificial intelligence products, which need significant computing power, will help Oracle gain share in the market.

For Oracle right now, “it’s all about the cloud, it’s all about scaling that business,” said Angelo Zino, an analyst at CFRA.

Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison expressed enthusiasm for the growing demand spurred by AI, saying companies in the area have “signed contracts to purchase more than $4 billion of capacity” from Oracle’s cloud service. The figure is twice as much as Oracle booked at the end of the previous quarter, he said in the statement.

Revenue from the cloud infrastructure business increased 66% in the period ended Aug. 31 — “much faster than our hyperscale cloud infrastructure competitors,” Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz said in the statement. That figure was 76% in the previous quarter.

The stock dropped to a low of $118.67 in extended trading after closing at a record high of $126.70 in New York. The shares have rallied 55% this year.

Sales of Fusion software for managing corporate finance increased 21% in the quarter, compared with 26% growth in the previous period. Revenue from NetSuite, enterprise planning tools aimed at small- and mid-sized companies, jumped 21%, compared with 22% in the fiscal fourth quarter.

(Updates with comments from analyst in the fifth paragraph.)

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