Ballmer Says Microsoft Not Immune from Global Crisis

 
 
By Reuters -  |  Posted 2008-10-01
 
 
 

OSLO (Reuters) - Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Tuesday the global financial crisis will sap consumer and business spending, affecting all companies, including his own.

"Financial issues are going to affect both business spending and consumer spending, and particularly ... spending by the financial services industry," Ballmer told reporters on the sidelines of a news conference in the Norwegian capital.

"We have a lot of business with the corporate sector as well as with the consumer sector and whatever happens economically will certainly effect itself on Microsoft," he told Reuters.

"I think one has to anticipate that no company is immune to these issues," he said, but declined to be more specific.

Wall Street analysts, on average, expect the Redmond, Washington-based company to generate an 8 percent rise in revenue to just under $15 billion in its first-quarter ending in September.

"There are parts of our every business which are probably 'safe' in the sense that it's not like our business would go to zero," he said in an interview.

"On the other hand, when businesses have less money -- they can borrow less money, they can spend less money -- that can't be good. When consumers feel the economic pinch, house prices come down. That can't be good," Ballmer said.

Microsoft shares rose 2.9 percent to $25.73 at 11:17 a.m. EDT in a broader U.S. market rebound following a sharp slide on Monday.

But Ballmer's comments weighed on the shares of German software maker SAP AG (SAPG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which fell 2.0 percent and were among the heaviest fallers in Germany's DAX index .GDAXI.

Investors may take Ballmer's remarks as an indication that Microsoft's revenues could be hurt by the continuing financial crisis, a trader said.

"By extension, these fears have worked their way over to SAP," the trader added.

"TRUST" IN U.S. LAWMAKERS

Ballmer said he believed the U.S. Congress would soon help stabilize the situation after rejecting a $700 billion bank bailout plan on Monday.

"I trust that before the end of the week we have some resolution, at least in the U.S. Congress, that will help to stabilize the situation. We need that. I hope we get that," he said.

"I have to believe that some of the issues also face the European banks and I trust that the European Central Bank will be as intelligent as it needs to be around that," he said.

World stocks fell on Tuesday after the rejection of the U.S. bank rescue package, although European and U.S. markets later recovered.

Bad mortgage debt has hit U.S. banks and insurers, prompting government bailouts to avoid a breakdown in the financial system.

NO MICROSOFT PHONE

Ballmer said Microsoft plans to stick with charging handset makers licensing fees for using its mobile operating system, despite free offerings from Google (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Nokia (NOK1V.HE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

"We are doing well, we believe in the value of what we are doing," Ballmer told Reuters in an interview.

The pressure on Microsoft's high licensing fees has increased over 2008 with Google rolling out free Android technology and Nokia offering to buy out others from Symbian and take also its software royalty-free.

He said there was no reason to expect Microsoft to enter the mobile phone making business, like some analysts forecast.

"I do not anticipate us building a phone," Ballmer said.

(Additional reporting by Wojciech Moskwa in Oslo and Tyler Sitte in Germany; editing by Paul Bolding, Elaine Hardcastle)