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Oracle Corp (ORCL - Analyst Report) is set to report its third quarter 2013 results on Mar 20. In the prior quarter, the company posted a positive surprise of 3.45%. Moreover, the company posted an average positive earnings surprise of 2.72% over the past four quarters. Let’s see how things are shaping up for the company in this quarter.

Growth Factors this Past Quarter

Oracle reported better-than-expected second quarter 2013 results, backed by higher software revenues and cloud revenues. The company’s bottom line also jumped on a year-over-year basis, aided by margin expansion.

Oracle added a number of new customers in both customer relationship management (CRM) and human capital management (HCM) portfolios. However, the company’s hardware segment continued to be dismal and declined on a year-over-year basis.

For the third quarter of 2013, Oracle expects non-GAAP earnings in the range of 64 cents to 68 cents per share, which is significantly higher than the year-ago level of 62 cents. Total revenue on a non-GAAP basis is expected to grow in the range of 1.0% to 5.0%. New software license and cloud subscription revenue growth is expected to range from 3.0% to 13.0%. Hardware product revenue is expected to be down 10% to flat for the upcoming quarter.

Earnings Whispers?

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the third quarter stands at 63 cents per share while that for fiscal 2013 is $2.59 per share.

There have been no revisions in the third quarter and 2013 estimates over the last 60 days. As a result, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the two periods remain pinned at 63 cents and $2.59, respectively.

The lack of downward movement in estimates signals that the third quarter might not be too different from the past quarters. This is also indicated by that fact that the stock carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

We caution against stocks with Zacks Ranks #4 and #5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Other Stocks to Consider

Our model states that a stock needs to have both a positive Zacks Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank of #1, #2 or #3 to beat the earnings estimates. You could, however, consider the following stocks that satisfy both criteria:

Symantec Corp (SYMC - Analyst Report) has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and Zacks Earnings ESP of +5.88%.

NetSol Technologies (NTWK - Snapshot Report) has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and Zacks Earnings ESP of +4.76.

Fiserv Inc. (FISV - Analyst Report) has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and Zacks Earnings ESP of +3.05%.

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