Break out your favorite deck of Tarot cards and polish off that old crystal ball. Come Thursday night, we're meeting up with Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) for a fresh reading of the company's tea leaves. Management felt great last time around, come recession or high water. Has the tune changed at all?

What Fools say:
Here's how Oracle's CAPS rating stacks up against some of its peers and competitors:

Company

Market Cap (billions)

Trailing P/E Ratio

CAPS Rating

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

$230.2

13.5

***

International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM)

$153.5

14.0

***

Oracle

$95.5

17.5

****

SAP AG (NYSE:SAP)

$65.1

25.6

***

EMC (NYSE:EMC)

$26.8

16.8

*****

Data taken from Motley Fool CAPS on Sept. 17, 2008.

Our CAPS players love Oracle, as 93% of more than 2,300 opinionated Fools give the stock a thumbs-up. "Oracle may have seen the worst of the current downturn, says CAPS player RicT914. "Prospects for the next 3-5 years are quite good including an estimated future growth rate of over 13%. I currently own Oracle and will buy more on dips."

Oracle's shares currently trade at mere pennies above 52-week lows, in case you're thinking along the same lines.

What management does:
Steadily improving gross margins beget rising profit margins, all under the umbrella of steady-as-she-goes revenue growth. Nothing to complain about here -- move along.

Margins

2/07

5/07

8/07

11/07

2/08

5/08

Gross

76.5%

76.7%

76.9%

77.2%

77.2%

77.8%

Operating

33.5%

34.1%

33.8%

34.2%

34.6%

35.7%

Net

23.3%

23.7%

23.5%

23.8%

24.2%

24.6%

FCF/Revenue

27.8%

28.9%

33%

32.8%

33.3%

31.9%

Y-O-Y Growth

2/07

5/07

8/07

11/07

2/08

5/08

Revenue

26.9%

25.1%

24.5%

24.9%

23.5%

24.6%

Earnings

27.9%

26.4%

25.8%

29.1%

28.2%

29.2%

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:
Given Oracle's long-standing habit of buying its growth, I'm starting to wonder what Larry and his gang are cooking up behind the scenes these days. Since the last report, the company has bought three businesses in fields like insurance software, training tools, and application management, but none was large enough to merit the disclosure of a buying price, nor do we know how much revenue or profit these strategic little purchases should contribute to the business.

OK, so the BEA Systems deal is only a few months old, and Oracle does tend to leave some air around the big deals. PeopleSoft happened in 2005, Siebel in 2006, then there was Hyperion in 2007 and BEA this year -- all multibillion-dollar buyouts. Don't expect any big announcements for another few months, in other words. But do listen in on the conference call and see if you can catch any hints of which direction the company is going. Will it be TIBCO Software (NASDAQ:TIBX) next, in a core business play? Perhaps Satyam Computer (NYSE:SAY), to bolster Oracle's support services? Maybe something even bigger? Stay tuned.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Satyam Computer Services is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. Or just sign up for a free CAPS account to find the identities of your fellow Fools who were quoted above. They might have more to tell you!

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is the Punxsutawney Phil of financial forecasting.