Monday, March 05, 2007

Why I doubled-down on Oracle

I've been planning on buying more Oracle off and on ever since I sold a portion a few years ago. Lately, I've held off because of price or because I had better ideas for the cash. As recently as last November, I was willing to sell another portion of my holdings. But since then, the price has fallen off far (15.97%) enough for me to switch back to buy mode.

I've borrowed some key ratios from Reuters:

Ratio                    Oracle  Industry*
-----                    ------  --------
P/E (TTM)                 24.02    31.08
Price to Sales (TTM)       5.39     5.96
Price to Cash Flow (TTM)  18.54    26.05
Price/FCF (TTM)           19.70    31.53
Operating Margin (TTM)    32.40    24.49
Net Profit Margin (TTM)   23.03    19.17
Return on Equity (TTM)    26.79    22.22

* Software & Programming 

The point is, Oracle is cheap compared to other software companies. But none of these ratios consider Oracle's superior growth. Year over year, Oracle has increased sales by 24.72% compared to 18.66% for the industry as a whole. Now much of the growth has come from the purchase of Siebel systems in January 2006, so we can't expect that growth to be repeated this year. But it's also becoming clear that the acquisition strategy is working. In particular, when a customer decides to buy one portion of the Oracle Suite, there is a strong incentive to buy all of their enterprise software from Oracle. Oracle the platform company is an even better business than Oracle the database company.

I also must admit that part of the reason I bought more Oracle was to round up an odd lot. Since Oracle doesn't currently pay a dividend, I intend to sell call options against my position. Of course, that requires Oracle to increase in price to where it is overvalued. That might take a few years, however.

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