April 20, 2012 / 12:52 PM / in 6 years

Microsoft rises as better PC sales boost profit

(Reuters) - Shares of Microsoft Corp rose more than 5 percent on Friday after the world’s largest software maker reported a quarterly profit that beat Wall Street forecasts on better-than-expected sales of personal computers.

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

The deluge of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, has seen Apple Inc and Google Inc vie for top honors in consumer electronics, leaving Microsoft trying to reinvent itself to compete in a changing landscape.

Microsoft’s first-quarter results, released on Thursday, boosted confidence in the company, which expects to launch a new tablet-friendly version of Windows. At least four brokerages raised their price targets on the stock.

“The product launches should create a positive mix effect on gross margin, as was the case in the previous two Windows launches,” Barclays analyst Raimo Lenschow said in a research note to clients.

Lenschow, who has an “equal weight” rating on Microsoft shares, raised his price target on the stock by $3 to $36.

Evercore analyst Kirk Materne said strong demand from enterprise customers should mean the shares continue to rise ahead of the company’s expected fall product launch.

But he said it was unclear if additional revenue from upcoming product launches “will need to be plowed back into spending on businesses where (Microsoft) is lagging (mobile, online) or whether most of the upside can drop to the bottom line.”

Microsoft shares were up $1.62, or 5.2 percent, to $32.63 on Nasdaq in morning trade. The stock touched a four-year high of $32.95 last month but has declined 6 percent since.

Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore, Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Don Sebastian and John Wallace

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