Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) shares jumped in after-hours trading yesterday after the company’s latest earnings report. The company said its quarterly earnings rose 18 percent in its most recent quarter as businesses spent more money on technology and software closer to the end of the year.

This earnings report is a remarkable improvement over Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL)’s last quarter, which showed a decrease in revenue slightly since the year before. Analysts were expecting between 9 and 12 percent growth for Oracle in the current quarter, but the company’s earnings came in at 17 percent growth year over year. The company’s net income rose to $2.58 billion, an 18 percent increase since last year.

Oracle’s stock earned 52 cents per share, which was a 24 percent increase from last year at this time. A survey of analysts conducted by Thomson Reuters showed a consensus of only 48 cents per share expected. Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL)’s most recent quarter covered September through November, so this is the first tech company to give the markets any indication of what corporate spending will look like going into the end of 2012.

As Mercury News points out, the company recently purchased several companies so that it could expand its cloud-based offerings. Also the company acquired Sun Microsystems two years ago and has enjoyed modest demand for certain hardware products.

However overall, the company’s hardware business posted a decline that was even worse than the low end of guidance. This does seem to indicate that much of Oracle’s future growth will depend on the company’s ability to compete with other cloud-based service companies.