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SAP announces Q3 results, downplays Oracle earnings

SAP announced a 17% increase in license revenues while its shares fell on news that 2006 profits may not be as high as previously expected.

German business applications giant SAP AG today announced that third quarter profits rose 16% thanks to growing sales in the U.S. and European markets, and the firm sought to downplay a recent earnings report from its chief rival, Oracle Corp., which cited an 80% growth in license revenue.

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SAP reports that net income rose to 388 million euros ($486 million), from 334 million euros a year earlier. The company reported that overall license revenue rose 17% to 691 million euros.

The price for SAP's stock, which have fallen 8.6% over the last six months, fell about another 3.3% today after SAP said that 2006 profitability and sales may not be as high as expected, according to published reports.

SAP said its slowest growth over the past year was in Germany, its second-biggest and one of its most mature markets.

SAP's third quarter American sales rose 23% to 292 million euros, beating analyst expectations by about 2 million Euros.

SAP vs. Oracle

In September, Oracle announced that software revenues were up 29% to $2.7 billion with database and middleware revenues up 15% and applications revenues up a whopping 80%. Analysts speculated that the jump in license revenue was the result of a three year long acquisition spree during which Oracle has purchased 21 competitors including CRM giants PeopleSoft Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc.

SAP, which sought to play down those results during its earnings announcement, continues to lead Oracle in the business applications market by a wide margin, and says it has taken about 400 orders from Oracle since introducing its Safe Passage program, which gives Oracle customers substantial rebates for switching to SAP.

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