Almost five months after Oracle Corp. surprised investors with more disappointing growth in its cloud computing services, a lawsuit filed Friday claims executives lied about the nature of that growth.
The suit, filed by Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP on behalf of the City of Sunrise [Florida] Firefighters’ Pension Fund, alleges that executives issued “false and misleading” press releases, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and statements during investor and analyst calls, during which investors are warned about the uncertainty of forward-looking statements.
In particular, the suit claims, executives misrepresented the “true drivers” of cloud revenue growth, attributing it to factors such as an “unprecedented level of automation and cost savings,” among other things. However, the suit alleges it used “threats and extortive tactics.”
“The use of such tactics concealed the lack of real demand for Oracle’s cloud services, making the growth unsustainable and ultimately driving away customers,” the suit reads. “Among other things, the Company threatened current customers with ‘audits’ of their use of the Company’s non-cloud software licenses unless the customers agreed to shift their business to Oracle cloud programs.”
Oracle disputed the claims. “The suit has no merit and Oracle will vigorously defend against these claims,” spokesperson Deborah Hellinger told SiliconANGLE.
There’s no doubt, however, that investors have been disappointed in Oracle’s cloud computing growth, and the company trails far behind market leaders Amazon Web Services Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google LLC, not just in market share but in growth as well. “Catching up with any of those competitors seems unlikely anytime soon,” Charles King, president and principal analyst at Pund-IT Inc., told SiliconANGLE.
Indeed, in its latest quarter reported in June, the company drew testy responses from analysts on its conference call who accused the company of “obfuscating” its real cloud numbers.
In response, co-Chief Executive Safra Catz retorted, “There is no hiding. Our cloud number was right where we said we should be. Margins are up. Cloud billings are strong. We don’t have any bad news here.” However, investors disagreed, knocking the stock down the next day by 7 percent.
Oracle has been struggling to move from its traditional database and business software to cloud services but has had trouble getting significant traction. Some analysts believe that’s why it recently stopped providing the same visibility on cloud services revenues as in previous quarters.
And those quarters were disappointing as well, each leading to a drop in the stock price after earnings reports. Still, although the suit also says the price of the company’s stock has “declined significantly,” it closed at $48.32 a share Friday, only a few dollars below its five-year high of $51.59 on Jan. 1.
Photo: Håkan Dahlström/Flickr
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