Oracle sees revenue below estimates as cloud spending sputters

A screen displays the logo and trading information for Oracle Corporation on the floor of the NYSE in New York

(Reuters) -Oracle projected current-quarter revenue below Wall Street targets on Monday and narrowly missed expectations for the first quarter as a tough economy pressured cloud spending by businesses, sending its shares down 9% in extended trading.

After a surge in cloud demand during the pandemic, businesses are rethinking their digitization plans, hurting Oracle as it plays catch-up in a segment dominated by larger rivals such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.

Still, analysts have said that the rise in adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) applications could boost Oracle's cloud infrastructure business because the advances made in its networking technology are more suited to take on AI workloads.

"As of today, AI development companies have signed contracts to purchase more than $4 billion of capacity in Oracle's Gen2 Cloud. That's twice as much as we had booked at the end of Q4," Oracle Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison said.

Ellison, a self-described close friend of Elon Musk, announced that the Tesla CEO's AI startup xAI had signed a contract to train AI models in Oracle's Gen2 Cloud.

He also said all nine utility companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway will replace their existing enterprise resource planning systems with Oracle's Fusion Cloud applications.

Shares of Oracle have gained about 55% so far this year.

The firm forecast second-quarter revenue growth of between 5% and 7%, lower than analysts' average estimate of 8.2%, according to LSEG data. It also expects adjusted profit between $1.30 and $1.34 per share, compared with expectations of $1.33.

Revenue for the first quarter stood at $12.45 billion, slightly below estimates of $12.47 billion.

Excluding items, it earned $1.19 per share, compared with estimates of $1.15.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)