by Thomas Wailgum

Oracle Earnings Conference Calls of the Wild

Sep 21, 2009
Enterprise Applications

Larry Ellison loves to throw verbal grenades during earnings calls. Who's at the top of his hit list right now?

Most publicly-traded companies’ earnings calls can be pretty boring affairs: Optimistic CEOs and by-the-numbers CFOs offering up bland responses to analysts questions, all in an effort to say nothing that will upset shareholders or alert competitors to future strategies.

Oracle’s earnings calls, however, typically burst with competitive vitriol and corporate bravado: Larry Ellison & Co. firing off verbal WMDs at the most vilified competitor of the moment.

Of course, what Oracle execs utter on these calls is probably far more sanitized than what is internally discussed—like when they use the phrase “Shut off its oxygen” in relation to talking about an acquisition target. (Wonder what they say about opinionated bloggers?)

One of Oracle’s favorite targets has been archrival and enterprise software vendor SAP. As in: “We grew faster than SAP in every region around the world,” mentioned by Oracle President Charles Phillips in the most recent 2010 Q1 call. (See Oracle Q1 Results: A Tale of Two Companies for my Dickensian take on the results.)

The folks at SAP who monitor these types of things put together what they refer to as the “Oracle Insecurity Index,” a table that breaks down Oracle’s competitor mentions during earnings calls (available via Seeking Alpha).

In looking at the last 10 quarterly calls (since the fourth-quarter 2007 earnings call), Oracle execs have uttered “SAP” 96 times. And as you can imagine, the mentions weren’t of the laudatory nature.

The folks at SAP track other vendors’ mentions as well during the calls. IBM received 66 mentions during that time span, and 13 during the most recent call—looks like someone’s found a new target! Microsoft got 40, though none during the last two calls.

As one might expect, SaaS CRM player has drawn many mentions—20 in total during the past 10 calls, though the majority have come more as of late. chief Marc Benioff is a protegé of Ellison, and their oral jousting is highly entertaining.

Yet NetSuite, the profitable Web-based ERP provider and a legitimate competitor to Oracle, has never drawn a mention from Oracle’s team during the past 10 calls, according to the folks at SAP’s data. (Ellison is, oh by the way, a major, major shareholder in NetSuite.)

My Mom always said: “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” But, Mom, Larry would say that there’s absolutely no fun in that.

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