In many ways, Oracle's (NYSE: ORCL) recent fiscal 2017 third-quarter earnings report, released Wednesday after the close, went as expected. Total revenue climbed a modest 2% to $9.2 billion, slightly below the consensus estimate of $9.25 billion. However, thanks to yet another quarter of strong, high-margin cloud-related revenue, its $0.69 per share earnings (excluding one-time costs) handily beat the $0.62 per share the analysts had forecast.

After hitting the $1 billion mark in total cloud sales for the first time last quarter, Oracle once again reported year-over-year cloud revenue that now has it tracking at a $5 billion annual run-rate. Led by a 73% increase in combined software-as-a-servce (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud revenue of $1 billion, Oracle's total cloud sales for Q3 hit $1.2 billion when its infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) results are tossed into the mix. That adds up to an overall 62% year-over-year improvement.

As co-CEO Safra Catz noted in Oracle's earnings release, its SaaS and PaaS strength also helped to boost gross margins to 65% after excluding one-time costs, which in turn was reflected in its outstanding EPS results.

To top off the strong quarter, Oracle announced its board of directors had approved a 27% dividend increase to $0.19 a share, up from the current $0.15. That dividend -- which gives the stock a 1.75% annual yield -- will be paid on April 26 to shareholders of record as of April 12.

Oracle stock opened trading Thursday up approximately 7%.


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Tim Brugger has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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