Microsoft Posts Rise in Profit, Lifts Outlook

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Microsoft  reported a rise in quarterly profit on Thursday, boosted by strong sales of its Windows operating system, and the company raised its full-year profit outlook, sending its shares up 4 percent. 


The world’s largest software maker said net profit in its fiscal second quarter rose to $4.7 billion, or 50 cents per diluted share, from $2.6 billion, or 26 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 30 percent to $16.37 billion.


Analysts, on average, had forecast Microsoft to earn 46 cents per share on revenue of $15.94 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.


The second-quarter revenue and profit growth rates are exaggerated by results in the year-ago period when Microsoft deferred more than $1 billion in net income due to delays in releasing Windows Vista and Office 2007, which hit stores in early 2007.


For the fiscal year ending in June, Microsoft lifted its outlook. It now expects earnings per share to range between $1.85 and $1.88 per share, up from its previous estimate of $1.78 to $1.81.


It also boosted its revenue outlook range to between $59.9 billion and $60.5 billion from a previous range of $58.8 billion to $59.7 billion.


Microsoft’s results and raised forecasts come on the heels of disappointing outlooks from technology bellwethers Intel Corp and Apple Inc, which sent shivers through an already jittery stock market.


The company has long argued its products are less sensitive to swings in technology spending because they account for a small, but essential, portion of overall technology spending by corporate customers.


Microsoft posted strong sales of Windows Vista, helped by double-digit percentage growth rates in computer sales in the December quarter. A strong performance at its Windows units drove Microsoft’s first-quarter results, which far exceeded Wall Street’s expectations.


For the current quarter, Microsoft said earnings per share would range between 43 cents and 45 cents per share on revenue ranging from $14.3 billion to $14.6 billion. 


Wall Street analysts, on average, are predicting Microsoft will earn 44 cents a share in the March quarter on revenue of $14.4 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.


Shares of Microsoft surged to their highest levels since 2001 after the September-quarter results. As of the close of trade on Wednesday, the stock had fallen more than 10 percent since then due in part to economic concerns and declines in the broader market.


But in after-hours trade, Microsoft shares rose to $34.60, after closing up 4 percent in regular Nasdaq trade at $33.25.


(Reporting by Daisuke Wakabayashi; Editing by Braden Reddall)


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