Oracle CEO Mark Hurd takes medical leave as sales miss forecasts

Hurd's unspecified period of leave and Oracle's earlier-than-expected results announcement dented its share price.

    Mark Hurd, one of Oracle Corp's two chief executive officers, has been in and out of the public eye over the past year-and-a-half as the company avoided discussions of his health [File: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg]
    Mark Hurd, one of Oracle Corp's two chief executive officers, has been in and out of the public eye over the past year-and-a-half as the company avoided discussions of his health [File: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg]

    Oracle Corp said on Wednesday that its Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd would be taking medical leave.

    The business software maker also announced first-quarter revenue that fell below Wall Street expectations.

    The company's shares fell by as much as two percent in extended trading hours.

    Hurd is one of Oracle's two CEOs, the other being Safra Catz. Under their tenure, the company has tried to rapidly transition to cloud computing software.

    Catz, along with Oracle founder and Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison, will cover Hurd's responsibilities during his absence, the company statement said.

    Hurd will continue to receive all employment benefits during his leave, Oracle said. The company did not respond to request by the Reuters news agency for details on Hurd's health issues and how long his leave would last.

    Hurd was named Oracle co-president in September 2010, a month after he was removed under a cloud of controversy from Hewlett-Packard Co, where he had been chief executive since 2005.

    When Hurd and Catz were named co-CEOs in 2014, analysts were sceptical about the move. However, cloud software giants such as Salesforce.com Inc have since also put a co-CEO structure in place.

    "Mark Hurd is a talented executive, but I don't think Oracle will act differently," Wedbush Securities analyst Steve Koenig said.

    Separately, Oracle reported quarterly earnings a day before its scheduled release. On a post-earnings call with analysts, Catz said, "...as Mark will be taking a leave, we felt it made sense to share all of our news at once."

    Total revenue came in at $9.22bn, missing estimates of $9.29bn, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

    The miss indicated Oracle was struggling to make inroads into the highly competitive cloud computing market, which is dominated by the likes of Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc.

    Oracle has been aggressively pushing into cloud computing to make up for a late entry into the fast-growing business that helps companies move away from the traditional and costlier on-site model.

    The company also said, assuming currency headwinds, it expected second-quarter adjusted profit of between 87 cents and 89 cents per share, below estimates of 91 cents per share.

    Net income fell to $2.14bn in the three months ended August 31, from $2.27bn a year earlier. On a per-share basis, Oracle earned 63 cents per share from 57 cents per share, a year ago.

    Oracle also said it plans to buy back an additional $15bn in stock.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency