* New software sales rise 7 percent
* Hardware product revenue tumbles 16 percent
* Profit, ex items, at 62 cts vs Street view 56 cts
* Shares rise 3 percent
BOSTON, March 20 (Reuters) - Technology giant Oracle Corp ORCL.O said quarterly sales of new software rose 7 percent from a year earlier to $2.4 billion, at the high end of its own forecast.
The world's No. 3 software maker met its key sales goal in its fiscal third quarter ended Feb. 29 after missing targets in its second quarter, which caused the company's profit to fall short of Wall Street forecasts for the first time in a decade. [ID:N1E7BJ0CP].
Oracle had forecast that new software sales would climb between 0 to 10 percent from a year earlier when it last reported earnings on Dec. 20.
Investors pay close attention to new software sales because they generate high-margin, long-term maintenance contracts and are an important gauge of the company's future profits.
The company also reported on Tuesday that hardware product sales tumbled 16 percent to $869 million. It had forecast a decline of between 5 and 15 percent.
Oracle posted third-quarter profit, excluding items, of 62 cents per share, beating the average forecast of 56 cents of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Oracle shares rose 3 percent to $31.00 in extended trade from their Nasdaq close of $30.10.
(Reporting By Jim Finkle; Editing by Richard Chang)
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