Saturday July 21, 2012
Microsoft posts Q4 loss but beats Wall St estimates
NEW YORK: Microsoft Corp reported its first quarterly loss as a public company as it took a previously announced hit for writing down the value of its ailing online unit, but held up better than expected in the face of stagnant computer sales.
Excluding the multi-billion-dollar writedown, which was signalled earlier this month, and factoring in some deferred Windows revenue, the world’s largest software company actually exceeded Wall Street’s expectations, boosting its shares in after-market trading.
“It looks good, given the dicey economic environment and the weakness we already know about in PCs,” said Brendan Barnicle, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities.
After several years of stumbling behind mobile and Internet trailblazers Apple Inc and Google Inc, and a decade-long static share price, some expectation is building that Microsoft can re-establish itself as a tech leader with its new, touch-friendly Windows 8 system, due out on Oct 26, and an accompanying tablet of its own design.
“There’s a lot of anticipation for the next Microsoft products. They are regaining credibility with enterprises,” said Trip Chowdhry, an analyst at Global Equities Research.
Alongside Windows 8 and its new Surface tablet – which it hopes will challenge Apple’s all-conquering iPad – Microsoft is set to release new phone software and a new web-oriented version of its highly profitable Office suite of applications over the next 12 months.
These, and other products, “will drive our business forward and provide unprecedented opportunity to our customers and partners,” said chief executive Steve Ballmer, in a statement.
The Washington-based company reported a net loss of US$492mil, or 6 cents per share, for its fiscal fourth quarter, compared with a profit of US$5.87bil, or 69 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.
The loss was expected after Microsoft said earlier this month that it would take a US$6.2bil writedown for the value of its online unit after an ill-fated acquisition of a digital advertising agency five years ago.
Microsoft has not suffered a quarterly loss since going public in 1986.
Revenue rose 4% to US$18bil, slightly below analysts’ estimates, helped by strong growth in its Office unit, but dampened by slowing computer sales featuring its flagship Windows operating system. – Reuters