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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

July 21, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Juicy nuggets from Microsoft’s earnings report

If investors are disappointed in Microsoft’s record earnings today, they should blame netbooks and Puerto Rico.

Those were two negative items buried in the companies report on earnings during the last quarter and fiscal year that ended June 30.

Sales were up 12 percent and net profit was up 23 percent, while the PC market was nearly flat.

A few nuggets from the fine print:


Business purchases of Microsoft Office and other productivity applications grew 13 percent, and sales to consumers grew 33 percent during the fiscal year. Consumer sales were down 8 percent in the quarter, compared to the launch period the year before.


Kinect kept the Xbox 360 growing and helped the business break $1 billion in operating profit during the fiscal year. Its sales over the year grew 45 percent, including a 30 percent gain last quarter. Sales were $8.9 billion and operating profit was $1.3 billion for the year, up 114 percent from the $618 million recorded last year.

Microsoft sold 13.7 million Xbox 360 consoles during the fiscal year, up from 10.3 million the year before.

There was no word on the performance of Windows Phone, which is part of the same Entertainment and Devices Division. During the earnings call, when asked about how the Nokia deal and upcoming “Mango” version of the phone software will affect sales, Microsoft totally dodged the question and pointed back to the Xbox growth.


Online advertising sales grew 20 percent in the quarter, to $597 million, and 19 percent through the fiscal year, to $2.3 billion. For perspective, the New York Times today reported that its ad sales for the last quarter were $302 million, down 4 percent.

Microsoft cited outside analysts pegging Bing’s U.S. market share at 14 percent, or 27 percent if you count Yahoo search powered by Bing.


Microsoft spent more providing enterprise services to big customers and paying fees to outside enterprise advisors, but it paid off. Server and tools sales grew 11 percent and operating income grew 19 percent.

Unless the Windows division picks up the pace, Server & Tools is on pace to become a bigger business for Microsoft. S&T sales were $17 billion last year and Windows’ were $19 billion.


What happened to Windows? PC sales are still recovering from consumers’ netbook bender:

“We estimate that sales of PCs to businesses grew approximately 8% this quarter and sales of PCs to consumers declined approximately 2%. The decline in consumer PC sales included an approximately 41% decline in the sales of netbooks. Taken together, the total PC market increased an estimated 1% to 3%.”

Windows was also “negatively impacted” by growth in developing countries where average selling prices are lower.


The cash pile grew to $52.8 billion, up from $36.8 billion at the end of fiscal 2010.

That’s after handing over $16.7 billion in dividends and stock buybacks last year and $15.9 billion the year before. (When’s Apple going to follow suit?)

Perhaps anticipating Wall Street questions about a 19 percent increase in administrative expenses during the last quarter, Microsoft blamed Puerto Rico.

It said a $192 million increase in general and administrative expenses were “due primarily to new Puerto Rican excise taxes and higher headcount-related expenses.”

Is Puerto Rico providing cover for the big raises that Steve Ballmer announced in April?


Microsoft worked the globalization thing. Its effective tax rate for the quarter was 7 percent for the year, down from 25 percent the year before. For the year it was 18 percent, down from 25 percent.

Its explanation:

“Our effective tax rate was lower than the U.S. federal statutory rate primarily due to a higher mix of earnings taxed at lower rates in foreign jurisdictions resulting from producing and distributing our products and services through our foreign regional operations centers in Ireland, Singapore and Puerto Rico, which are subject to lower income tax rates.”

Puerto Rico, again.

Comments | Topics: earnings, Microsoft, Windows


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