The grapevine is rife with speculation that Oracle Corp, having dumped its Sedona object-oriented tools, might buy-in some of its requirement, and the name that keeps cropping up is Forte Software Inc. Forte is arguably a good fit due to its object- oriented 4GL Tool language, and the success it’s had with its Forte development environment. Forte’s CEO Marty Sprintzen admits that Oracle attempted to acquire the company some time last year, but he won’t comment on whether the two companies have been in talks again more recently. It’s not known exactly why the deal wasn’t done last time around – but Forte would have been in a strong position to see off any advances as its shares were trading between $30 and $40 around the second half of last year. But all that’s changed – Forte’s shares have been hovering around a meager $10 to $12 in the last couple of months. Sprintzen says that’s an artificially low price based on its posting of relatively poor numbers. Forte reported a first quarter net loss of $2.2m compared with a profit of $0.3m last time, on revenue up 26% at $14.7m compared with $11.7m last time. The poor results were only because the company was struggling to hire sales staff, according to Sprintzen, a problem he says he’s pretty much solved. He’s added 20 to the numbers in the past few months and wants to add another six or so by the end of September. But even if the numbers are artificially low at the moment, Sprintzen and his board may feel shareholder pressure to be a little more amenable to a takeover this time around. We want to be an independent company and a very successful one, says Sprintzen. But obviously I can’t say we would not consider a takeover – we have to think about our shareholders’ investments.
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