Microsoft Q1 earnings down ahead of Win 8 launch

Posted at 10/19/12 7:39 AM

NEW YORK - US computing giant Microsoft posted Thursday lower earnings and revenues for its fiscal first quarter, citing the slowdown in the personal computer market.

Microsoft, the world's top software maker, reported after the markets closed that net profit fell 21 percent from the year-ago quarter, to $4.5 billion.

Adjusted earnings per share of 65 cents were well above the average analyst estimate of 56 cents.

Revenue fell 8 percent in the 2013 first quarter that ended September 30, to $16 billion, as sales fell ahead of the release of its new Windows 8 operating system, next week.

Offers of Windows upgrades, pre-sales of Windows 8 to computer builders and hardware manufacturers, and an upgrade offer on its new Office meant a deferral of $1.36 billion of revenue and 13 cents of diluted earnings per share, the company said.

"The launch of Windows 8 is the beginning of a new era at Microsoft," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive.

"Investments we've made over a number of years are now coming together to create a future of exceptional devices and services, with tremendous opportunity for our customers, developers, and partners."

The Redmond, Washington-based company will release its new Surface tablet computer -- running on Windows 8 and designed to challenge Apple's iPad -- on October 26.

"While enterprise revenue continued to grow and we managed our expenses, the slowdown in PC demand ahead of the Windows 8 launch resulted in a decline in operating income," said Peter Klein, Microsoft's chief financial officer.

In the Windows and Windows Live division, revenue fell to $3.24 billion, down a hefty 33 percent from a year ago.

The business and the entertainment divisions posted slight drops in revenue.

The bright spot was the online services division, which saw revenue of $697 million, up 9 percent from a year ago. Microsoft said online advertising revenue grew 15 percent, driven mostly by an increase in revenue per search.

The company reaffirmed its fiscal 2013 operating expense forecast of $30.3 to $30.9 billion but offered no other financial guidance.

Microsoft shares were down 2.4 percent at $28.79 in after-market trading, after closing 0.3 percent lower at $29.50.

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