Image source: Oracle.

What: Shares of software giant Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) rose 11.2% in March, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, driven by the company's fiscal third-quarter earnings report. While the company reported mixed results and provided in-line earnings guidance, that was good enough to send the stock soaring.

So what: Oracle reported quarterly revenue of $9 billion, down 3% year over year but up 1% adjusted for currency. Analysts were expecting slightly more, with Oracle's revenue missing analyst estimates by $110 million. Cloud platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service revenue rose 57% year over year, while total cloud revenue jumped 40% to $735 million.

Turning to earnings, Oracle reported non-GAAP EPS of $0.64, down from $0.68 during the prior-year period, but $0.02 higher than analysts expected. GAAP operating income slumped 10.5% year over year, with the decline driven by lower revenue and higher operating expenses.

Oracle expects non-GAAP EPS to be in a range of $0.82 to $0.85 during the fourth quarter, compared to analyst expectations of $0.82. In addition to reporting earnings, Oracle announced that it had added $10 billion to its share repurchase program.

Now what: While Oracle's quarter wasn't particularly good, investors may have been expecting worse. In-line earnings guidance and a big boost to the buyback program no doubt helped the cause, sending shares higher in March.

Oracle's transition to a cloud-focused company continues, and although cloud revenue is still a small portion of the company's total revenue, it is growing at a blistering pace. "In absolute dollar terms," Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison pointed out in the company's earnings release, "Oracle is already selling more enterprise SaaS and PaaS new cloud revenue than any other company in the world -- including"

Going forward, Oracle will need to contend with slumping sales of on-premises software and hardware as it grows its cloud business. But at least for now, investors seem willing to be patient.

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