Microsoft profit dips ahead of Office revamp

Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:12pm EST
 
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By Bill Rigby

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp's quarterly profit edged lower as Office software sales slowed ahead of a new launch, offsetting a solid but unspectacular start for its Windows 8 operating system and sending the company's shares down 1.4 percent.

The results mark a stark change from the 1990s, when Microsoft was the unchallenged king of computing and the release of a new Windows operating system would supercharge sales, generate excitement and generally boost its stock.

None of that appears to be true now, as Microsoft has been overtaken by Apple Inc and Google Inc in the rush toward mobile computing, while sales of traditional desktop computers are in decline.

"There's still no sign that Windows 8 is a gangbuster," said Andrew Bartels, an analyst at Forrester Research. "Compared to prior periods, where you saw a big increase when a new one came out, you're not seeing that."

Profit at the world's largest software company slid to $6.4 billion, or 76 cents per share, in the fiscal second quarter, from $6.6 billion, or 78 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Wall Street had expected 75 cents per share, on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Overall sales rose 3 percent to $21.5 billion, Microsoft said on Thursday, in line with analysts' estimates.

The biggest factor weighing on Microsoft was a 10 percent decline in sales at its Office unit to $5.7 billion, which took into account the loss of deferred revenue relating to discounted upgrades to the new version of the software, expected shortly.   Continued...

 
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks in front of Microsoft products at the Qualcomm pre-show keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in this January 7, 2013, file photo. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files