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Oracle releases forecast-beating results early as exec departs

Reuters/SAN FRANCISCO 19 Jun 12 | 07:11 AM

Oracle Corp reported stronger-than-expected quarterly profit, releasing the results three days ahead of schedule after news of the pending departure of a senior sales executive fueled concerns that business was stagnating.

Keith Block, executive vice president for Oracle's sales and consulting groups in North America, is leaving the company, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

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Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined comment. Block could not be reached.

Rumors of Block's departure had pushed Oracle shares down 2 percent in Nasdaq trading on Monday, but the stock recovered and was up 3.5 percent after hours at $27.90, helped by the authorization of an extra $10 billion for share buybacks over coming quarters.

Oracle President Safra Catz said the company decided to announce its results early as it was "ready to go." She and other company executives made no mention of Block on a conference call with analysts.

Oracle forecast zero to 10 percent growth in sales of new software licenses for its current fiscal first quarter despite a darkening global economic outlook.

Catz noted that the economic environment remains uncertain, but said that it was not having a big impact on Oracle's business.

"Everything stayed really strong," Catz said during the call. "It was kind of two stories, what we were seeing in the news and what we were seeing in our business."

The No. 3 software firm, which competes with Hewlett-Packard Co and International Business Machines , unveiled better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, helped by a 7 percent jump in new software license revenue to $4 billion.

Excluding items, the company earned fourth-quarter profit of 82 cents a share, outperforming the 78 cents forecast of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Matthew Lewis, Richard Chang and Edwina Gibbs)

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