Microsoft beats Street profit view, shares up

Thu Apr 19, 2012 6:07pm EDT
 
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By Bill Rigby

(Reuters) - Microsoft Corp beat Wall Street's profit forecast as personal computer sales held up better than expected, lifting its shares 2.5 percent after hours.

The results buoyed optimism around the world's largest software maker, which is lining up a new tablet-friendly version of Windows for later this year and is looking to make a dent into Apple Inc and Google Inc's domination of the mobile market this holiday shopping season.

"The results were a fair amount better than we were looking for," said Rick Sherlund, an analyst at Nomura Securities. "Overall revenue growth was 6 percent, and this is before the new product cycle, which should come around October."

Microsoft - whose shares hit a 4-year high of $32.95 last month - has not said when its Windows 8 system will be released, but most in the industry expect it on devices from around October, offering an alternative to Apple's runaway iPad. New Windows smartphone software is expected around the same time.

"Next year at this time we should be talking about Windows 8 mobile and how it's contributing or not to the company," said Kim Forrest, analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group. "But we really need Windows 8 to come out on all devices, to see if it's going to have that synergy or not."

The Redmond, Washington-based company reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $5.11 billion, or 60 cents per share, compared with $5.23 billion, or 61 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter when it posted a one-time tax gain.

Profit beat analysts' average forecast of 57 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose 6 percent to $17.41 billion, driven by strong demand for its server software products and Office application. Analysts had expected sales of $17.18 billion.   Continued...

 
A worker prepares the logo on the Microsoft stand on the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover in this file photo taken February 26, 2011. Microsoft Corp beat Wall Street's profit forecast as computer sales held up better than expected, lifting its shares 2.5 percent after hours. The world's largest software maker reported quarterly profit of $5.11 billion, or 60 cents per share, compared with $5.23 billion, or 61 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter when it posted a one-time tax gain. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz/Files