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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 24, 2008 at 1:21 PM

MSFT posts second stellar quarter, blowing past estimates

Microsoft has just announced its earnings for the quarter ended Dec. 31. Revenue was nearly $16.4 billion, up 30 percent, and earnings per share were 50 cents, better by 4 cents than the high end of management forecasts and the Wall Street consensus estimate. The revenue growth figure is a bit misleading because last fiscal year the company deferred $1.6 billion in revenue to help spur demand for PCs as Vista’s release was delayed past the 2006 holidays. Absent the deferral, this quarter’s revenue growth is 15 percent.

Here are links to the company’s 10-Q and press release.

Stay tuned for coverage this afternoon.

Update, 2:30 p.m.: I just spoke with Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell. Here’s some of what he had to say.

Is Microsoft getting even more attention this quarter because of the turmoil in the larger economy?

“There certainly seems to be a lot of focus. I think that’s clearly because of the number of markets that we’re in. We’re not only a bellwether in terms of our size, I think we’re a bellwether in terms of the breadth as well, so depending on the division you look at you get a pretty good look at what’s happening on the business side vs. consumer side and, the market vs. international markets, so there’s plenty of interest.”

Microsoft raised its full-year forecasts for fiscal 2008. Revenue is now projected to be $59.9 billion to $60.5 billion, up from the Oct. 25 forecast of $58.8 billion to $59.7 billion, an increase of 1.3 percent on the high end. Earnings per share should now come in between $1.85 to $1.88, up nearly 3.9 percent from the high end of the range of $1.78 to $1.81 given in October. How does Microsoft have the confidence to raise its guidance in the face of a U.S. recession?

“We’re just very happy with the position we have in the markets that we have. Clearly, we, like everyone else, would be impacted if we did see an economic downturn, but relatively speaking we still feel very good about the products we’re in, the market positions we’re in and we’re helped for example by over 60 percent of our sales are now to customers outside the U.S. So, whilst there’s a lot of focus on what’s happening inside the U.S., at the growth rates we are seeing in non-U.S. mature markets and emerging markets are very healthy.” (The former grew more than 20 percent in the first half and the latter, while starting on a smaller base, grew more than 30 percent. Emphasis mine.)

The raised guidance results in part from the company’s performance through the first six months of the fiscal year, and in part from the outlook for the second half of the year, Liddell said.

In addition to strength in a broad spread of geographical markets, Liddell said Microsoft’s bread and butter — PC operating systems — were helped by a strong holiday quarter of PC sales. “PC demand in this second quarter was 14 or 15 percent. Clearly that’s a very healthy number,” he said.

After taking a beating with the rest of the blue chips this week, Microsoft’s stock gained $1.32, or 4.1 percent, to close regular trading at $33.25, on higher volume than usual. In early after-hours trading, the stock was up $1.53, 4.60 percent, to $34.78 as of 5:21 p.m. ET.

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