Is this a recovery I see before me?

It's nice to end the year on something of an upbeat note. Let's face it - it's been a vile old time for most of the industry these past twelve months, so we can be forgiven for jumping on even the most wafer thin piece of good news at this late stage.

So is this a recovery I see before me? Oracle's applications revenues up 27 per cent, a bigger growth rate than SAP, Siebel or PeopleSoft notes CEO Larry Ellison. Of course the company's performance in the apps space has been so far down the toilet for many a quarter of late, that any improvement was bound to come up looking good in percentage terms, but it's nonetheless a convenient time for there to be a public improvement.

For while Oracle's second quarter figures cheered up Wall Street this week, for Ellison there were some near term political points to be made. Not only did the performance relative to its major rivals bear mentioning, but the old rogue was also quick to argue: "New licence sales at the combined PeopleSoft and JD Edwards company declined 18 per cent as compared to their results when they were operating as separate companies."

That sort of statistic could come in awfully handy in the months to come. As we pointed out several weeks ago, PeopleSoft needs to present another set of balanced books to keep Wall Street happy that its merger with JD Edwards and its rejection of the Oracle takeover bid was a good idea.

One hint that the rosy predictions of how well the combined company can do financially were not rock solid and Wall Street - and all those PeopleSoft shareholders who despite the best impressions given by CEO Craig Conway are the ones who really own PeopleSoft! - will get a bad case of the jitters. So all eyes will be on the next set of quarterly figures from PeopleSoft to see if the uneasy whispers that are being voiced in certain dark corners of the software industry have any basis beyond malicious tittle tattle.

Ellison and CO can take some cheer from this week's results. They were solid rather than spectacular, but these days solid is pretty spectacular. Longer term, they were a laying down of corporate cards on the table. Your move Mr Conway...

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