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Microsoft Sales, Earnings Top Estimates Despite Strong Dollar, PC Weakness

The software giant easily surpassed estimates, even with $190 million in restructuring costs.

Asa Mathat

Microsoft on Thursday reported sales and earnings well ahead of Wall Street forecasts despite negative pressure from a strong dollar and a weak PC market.

The software giant earned 61 cents per share on revenue of $21.7 billion, including $190 million in restructuring charges that dented earnings by one cent per share.

That compares to per-share earnings of 68 cents on revenue of $20.4 billion for the same quarter a year ago. Analysts expected per-share earnings of 51 cents per share on revenue of $21.06 billion, according to Yahoo Finance.

“Customers continue to choose Microsoft to transform their business, and as a result we saw incredible growth across our cloud services this quarter,” CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.

Shares rose in after-hours trading, changing hands recently at $44.70, up $1.36 or 3.14 percent.

The company’s commercial unit saw sales up 5 percent in total, to $12.8 billion. Among the highlights, the corporate cloud business once again more than doubled from a year ago and is now on a $6.3 billion annual run rate.

Microsoft’s overall consumer and devices business was up 8 percent from a year ago, to $9 billion. Surface sales were up 44 percent, to $713 million, while Microsoft sold 8.6 million Lumia phones, generating $1.4 billion in revenue.

Microsoft said it would wait until its 2:30 pm PT conference call with analysts to give guidance for the current quarter.


Update, 2:35 pm PT: On a conference call with analysts, Nadella touted the fact that Bing now has 20 percent of the U.S. search share for the first time and offered modest enthusiasm for the company’s renegotiated deal with Yahoo, saying he was “pleased” with the renewed partnership.

He also said that Microsoft wants Windows 10 to be the most-loved version of Windows ever, with more details to come at next week’s Build developer conference in San Francisco.

On the phone side, Nadella said that the company is seeing some gains in the entry-level part of the market, with phone sales up 18 percent from a year ago. However, Nadella said that Microsoft needs to cut costs further in the hardware unit.

CFO Amy Hood said that the company saw particularly weak business in Japan, where revenue was down more than $500 million amid a sluggish PC market.

“We don’t expect this to change in the short term,” Hood said.

As for the current quarter, Hood said that the company expects a bunch of negative factors to impact results, including 4 percentage points of impact from the strong dollar and continued year-over-year declines in Japan as well as a shrinking of PC inventory ahead of the Windows 10 launch.

Microsoft plans to talk more about where it is headed at a financial analysts meeting next week.

3:05 pm: On to Q&A.

3:12 pm: Dull Q’s; even duller A’s.

3:28 pm: The Giants have now tied things up with the Dodgers and have a runner on third. Nobody out. Bottom of the 9th.

3:30 pm: I think the analysts are watching the game too. For final question, analyst asks what inning we are in in terms of Microsoft’s data center build out.

No direct answer on that question. But Giants-Dodgers still tied 2-2 with two down and a runner on third in the 9th inning.

3:33 p.m.: That does it for Microsoft’s conference call. Meanwhile, the Giants stranded a runner on third, so they’re going to extra innings. You’ll have to turn on the TV for the rest of that game.

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