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  (Source: ExtremeTech)
Investor bloodbath awaits as Microsoft tries to revamp its company

If you're trying to restructure your company into a devices and services firm, it's a pretty bad sign when you announced a $900M USD (yes, million) hit due to the sales failure of one of your flagship devices.  That's the reality facing Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) who announced earnings late this afternoon following last week's announced leadership and direction shakeup.

Things appear headed in an ugly direction for Microsoft's stock, which was trading down nearly 6 percent in after-hours.

The Surface charge comes largely prior to the $150 USD price drop on the unpopular Surface RT variant, meaning more big charges could await.  If Surface is a "real business" as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer proclaimed ebulliently in Feb., it appears to be failing business.

Surface was the surprise write-down on Microsoft's balance sheet.

Aside from the obvious concern -- losing money -- the Surface charge also represents the overall volatile state of Microsoft's quarterly earnings due to hordes of charges.  Overall Microsoft recorded a one-time write down of $782M USD on the Office Upgrade Offer, which dropped the business division's revenue almost in half to $722 USD (leaving revenue growth virtually flat at 2 percent).  The balance sheets reminds of two other large hits -- the $540M USD Windows Upgrade Offer and $733M USD European Union antitrust fine -- which Microsoft took in the last 12 months.

Here's Microsoft's total balance sheet.
Microsoft Earnings

Note that the online unit had a $6.2B USD (yes, billion) write-down last year, so the actual losses trimming is smaller than it looks.  But overall both the entertainment (Xbox, Windows Phone) and online services (Bing) units trimmed their losses by $100M USD or more.  Microsoft cites Comscore's numbers which indicate Bing now controls 17.9 percent of the search market.

But the clear loser was the Windows unit, whose revenue fell from $2.422B USD to $1.099B USD as PC sales slumped.

Overall analysts had hoped for earnings of around 75 cents per share ($6.33B USD) on a revenue of $20.73B USD (including the Office writedown, but not the Surface one).  Instead they got earnings of around 66 cents per share ($5.56B USD) once you removed the 7 cents per share (unexpected) Surface writedown. In other words, even excluding the unexpected Surface financial hit, Microsoft's profit fell nearly a billion dollars short of expectations due to weak Windows sales.

Steve Ballmer w Windows 8
Surprise! Windows 8 isn't selling well. [Image Source: AFP]

Microsoft has a huge cash pile -- $77B USD, so it can afford to drop a billion here or there.  And the company did announced that Office 365 (subscription) revenue was up to $1.5B USD, which should help to make the balance sheet flatter and more predictable.

But with Windows device sales in disarray, the Xbox One receiving an icy reception from gamers, and no clear breakthrough for Windows Phone/Surface, Microsoft has a lot of questions to answers in the year to come.  The answers will largel hinge on the current half as Microsoft's units reorganize and as Windows/Windows Phone 8.1 product launches.  Succeed and Microsoft may see a break in investor tension -- fall short and it will likely be hammered once more.

Source: Microsoft

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RE: At least MS is trying new things
By karimtemple on 7/19/2013 2:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
Metro is pretty great -- see Media Center Vista/7/8, Xbox 360, WP8, etc. What sucks about the Start Screen is partly that it doesn't adhere that well to Metro philosophies.

But that's just semantics, of course. But his point is solid -- Microsoft had a great goal (pre-empting the Superconvertible). I've made this point for a while now. Problem is, they were pretty bad at executing toward that goal.

By KOOLTIME on 7/19/2013 4:05:07 PM , Rating: 4
Windows 8 mistake boils down to hwo they delivered it.

They should have made the desktop version alot different aka no metro vs that tablet option.

Touch screen versions for screens that have it metro is more usefull, but for a desktop its a joke. The windows 8.1 update version, is still bad with metro, no help at all for a desktop, it makes it less useful to do work. More useless screens to pop up when not needed.

By ZorkZork on 7/19/2013 6:09:08 PM , Rating: 4
Metro is great on a 12" touchscreen. It sucks big time on a conventional laptop or on a desktop PC.

And then there is this feeling that when "in Metro" in-app-purchases is just around the corner.

Lastly, the whole idea that Metro apps could only be delivered through the Microsoft controlled store completely breaks with the history of the PC. It may be great (I'm not so sure) for tables and smartphones, but we have learned to love the openness of the PC. It will be suicide for Microsoft to try to take that away. Then I will probably go somewhere else entirely.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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