Business software maven Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) is reporting earnings Tuesday night, and the Fool is here to give you the lowdown on what to expect.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? 35 analysts offer trading recommendations on Oracle, and 22 of them recommend a buy. 11 are holding for a better opportunity, and two think you should sell today.
  • Revenues. The average revenue forecast calls for $3.47 billion in revenues, up a healthy 19.3% over the comparable period of last year.
  • Earnings. 26 analysts offer earnings guidance, and they all expect either $0.16 or $0.17 per share after one-time items, up from $0.14 per share one year ago. How's that for consistency?

What management says:
In Oracle's last earnings conference call, CEO Larry Ellison pointed out that the company is growing its database, middleware, and applications businesses faster than the nearest competitor in each field, and that it holds at least a 44% market share in its core database field, according to the latest market data.

"We just have more products in more spaces and customers are more comfortable with us," he said. "Regardless, it seems like what happens is we are going to gain market share." Brash words from a brash man, but he does have the business results to back up his tough talk.

What management does:
Gross margins remain rather stable over time, but it looks like the recent rash of acquisitions has weighed on operational efficiency and net margins. Both of those measures are nosing back up, though, so maybe the corporate indigestion is working itself out already.

Margins %




























All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
Oracle is another company with a remarkable track record in outperforming market expectations. Did you know that it never once has failed to meet the average analyst earnings target, as reported by Thomson First Call? Of course, it has also traditionally been in the habit of issuing earnings guidance for exactly one quarter forward, which should make it easy to set up hittable targets.

What's more impressive is the dominant place Oracle holds in several large and lucrative markets. Some of the most prominent companies on the stock market also rely on its products for their database and payroll processing needs, rather than developing in-house solutions for the same problems. With this kind of position in the marketplace, Oracle becomes almost a proxy for the overall economy. Over the past five years, the stock return has almost exactly matched the S&P 500, albeit with a lot more volatility.

This week, the analysts should have another easy target ready, and the conference call should contain more of the always entertaining, sometimes enlightening Ellison views of the company's place in the competitive landscape.


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Fool contributorAnders Bylundholds no position in any of the companies discussed here, and he doesn't believe in ancient soothsayers. Sorry, Nostradamus! You can check outAnders' holdingsif you like, and you can rely on Foolishdisclosureto dominate.