Oracle stock rises 5 per cent on news of Hurd hire

The hire makes good sense, according to some industry watchers

Oracle's stock price has climbed about 5.5 per cent so far Tuesday on news that ousted HP CEO Mark Hurd is joining the company. HP's shares, meanwhile, are down about 1 per cent, continuing a 13 per cent slide since news of Hurd's resignation and sexual harassment investigation was released on 6 August.

See what Hurd and other tech CEOs made last year

Oracle's stock last closed at $US22.92 and is trading at about $24.20 as of early Tuesday afternoon. HP's stock is hovering at $40.09, down from $46.35 just prior to Hurd's HP departure.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison came to Hurd's defense when the HP scandal first broke and Hurd was accused of improper expense accounting. Nearly a month later, Ellison cemented his defense of Hurd by naming him co-president of Oracle.

"There is no executive in the IT world with more relevant experience than Mark," said Ellison in a statement announcing Hurd's appointment. "Oracle's future is engineering complete and integrated hardware and software systems for the enterprise. Mark pioneered the integration of hardware with software when Teradata was a part of NCR."

The hire makes good sense, according to some industry watchers.

"As Oracle continues to integrate its acquired Sun assets with its database, middleware and applications platforms, the addition of an execution-focused executive like ex-HP CEO Mark Hurd is a huge boost to the company," says Stuart Williams, a software business practice manager at Technology Business Research (TBR).

Hurd's drive for operational efficiency will be an asset to the Oracle/Sun business, which is notorious for its high operating expenses, Williams says. "It is a ‘back-to-the-future' moment for Hurd, who took the reins at HP under similar circumstances following HP's acquisition of Compaq," he says. "HP had to drive out the cost from the acquired firm and construct a more efficient supply chain, sales model and sourcing strategy."

During Hurd's five years with HP, the company grew its revenue from $US91.6 billion in 2006 to $114.6 billion in 2009 and more than doubled its earnings per share. (See: Mark Hurd: A look back at his HP tenure)

At Oracle, Hurd shares the title of president with Safra Catz, who says she looks forward to working with him. "As Oracle continues to grow we need people experienced in operating a $US100 billion business," Catz said in a statement.

Oracle is aiming to expand its market share with appliances that tie software with hardware to address specific workloads, such as data warehouse or online transaction processing. Purpose-built appliances are gaining in popularity, Williams says. More than 50% of enterprise customers surveyed by TBR said they purchased at least one of these higher-end appliances in the past 12 months.

But the competition is steep.

"Oracle is plotting a strategy that takes it into direct competition with traditional systems heavyweight IBM. IBM has huge advantages -- with long-time enterprise customers, a services business, a strong IP-backed hardware business and a $US20 billion software business of its own," Williams says.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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