SAP reports lower fourth-quarter earnings

$1.3 billion jury verdict in Oracle trial eats into German software maker's net income

Nearly two weeks after reporting strong fourth-quarter revenue growth, business software giant SAP AG got around to reporting its quarterly profit on Wednesday. The results weren't nearly so impressive, thanks to the intellectual-property theft lawsuit it lost to rival Oracle Corp. The German software vendor was ordered in late November by a California jury to pay Oracle $1.3 billion in damages for software stolen by its now-defunct TomorrowNow subsidiary. SAP intends to contest the verdict, arguing that the damages provided by the jury are excessive. (Also see: SAP shares soar on strong fourth-quarter revenues) The damages caused SAP's fourth quarter profit to fall to 437 million euros from 682 in the year-ago quarter, a drop of 36 percent. For the fiscal year, however, SAP's climbed 4 percent to 1.82 billion euros. On Jan. 13, SAP reported Q4 revenue of 4.04 billion euros ($5.39 billion), up 27 percent from 3.19 billion euros in the year-ago quarter. Analysts expected total sales of 3.78 euros. At the time the company said it couldn't determine its net profit until it factored in the damages awarded Oracle by the jury. The Q4 results were the first from the company to include sales attributed to enterprise software vendor Sybase, which SAP purchased last summer for $5.8 billion. Shares of SAP (NYSE: SAP) closed Wednesday at 56.40, up 1.24, or 2.25 percent. Earlier in the day shares reached a 52-week high of 56.50.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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