Oracle Stays Hot

Shares of Oracle surged 8% in late trading Tuesday after the company overcame its historically weak fiscal first quarter to post better than expected results.

Coming on top of stellar fourth-quarter results three months ago, the company’s aggressive acquisition strategy appears to be paying off.

Sales and earnings were up nearly 30% from the year-ago quarter. Pro forma earnings of 18 cents a share were two cents ahead of estimates, while sales of $3.59 billion topped $3.47 billion forecasts.

Applications new license sales jumped 80%, while database and middleware new license sales grew 15%.

Oracle President Charles Phillips boasted in a statement that the company is “rapidly taking applications market share from SAP.”

“SAP appears to be rethinking their strategy as they lose application market share to Oracle and confront the difficulties of moving their application software to a modern Service Oriented Architecture (SOA),” CEO Larry Ellison said in a statement. “They’ve just announced that they are delaying the next version of SAP applications until 2010. That’s a full two years behind Oracle’s scheduled delivery of our SOA Fusion applications. And now Kagermann is talking about an acquisition strategy to augment SAP’s slowing organic growth. These are major changes in direction for SAP.”

Oracle’s upbeat results provided an upbeat ending to a rough day on Wall Street. Wholesale inflation was tamer than expected, but weak housing numbers and a warning from Yahoo raised fears of an economic slowdown, and a coup in Thailand had traders worrying about a 1997-1998-style currency crisis.

Still, stocks finished well off their worst levels to end the day with modest losses. The Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates will be announced Wednesday afternoon, but with no change in rates expected, traders’ focus may be on overnight trading in Asian markets.

Yahoo’s warning weighed on other Internet stocks, including Google , which beat estimates back in July despite disappointing results from rival Yahoo.

Napster surged 13% after hiring UBS to explore strategic alternatives.

Maxim and Progress fell on warnings.

The Nasdaq lost 13 to 2222, the S&P 500 declined 3 to 1318, and the Dow fell 14 to 11,540. Volume rose to 2.33 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.15 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 18-14 on the NYSE, and 18-11 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 64% on the NYSE, and 72% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 139-53 on the NYSE, and 111-76 on the Nasdaq.

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