) to market perform from outperform.
Analyst Tad Piper says uncertainty around the PeopleSoft acquisition and Oracle's corporate strategy, combined with lower growth expectations and uncertainty about its ability to expand its customer relationships makes it less likely that Oracle will outperform its peers and the market as a whole. Also, Piper thinks small-cap and mid-cap software names will likely outperform large-cap software stocks over the next six months or so.
He adds that recent channel checks indicate Oracle may be tightening its purse strings. He views this as effort to maintain earnings guidance in light of uncertain revenue growth. He trimmed the 10 cents first-quarter earnings per share estimate to 9 cents, and cut the $16 target to $12.50.