Zwar nur eine "versteckte" Gewinnwarnung, aber so schlecht haben wir denn doch nicht getippt. "Microsoft ist nicht immun gegen eine weltweite Abschwächung der Wirtschaft"......
Friday March 9, 6:34 pm Eastern Time
Microsoft CFO Says No Change to Outlook
By Scott Hillis
SEATTLE March 9 (Reuters) - Software giant Microsoft Corp. has not changed its earnings
expectations, but remains cautious amid the U.S. economic slowdown, Chief Financial
Officer John Connors said on Friday.
``The expectations we set we haven't changed from our Jan. 18 earnings call, but as we mentioned in our October call and as
we mentioned in our January call, we sell products and services around the globe and we are not immune to economic
downturns,'' Connors told Reuters in an interview.
Connors declined to elaborate on the earnings outlook for the Redmond, Wash.-based company. Earlier on Friday he told an
investment conference in Seattle that he would not comment on the quarter and would not field questions about it.
Microsoft, which makes the Windows computer operating system, in January lowered expectations slightly by saying profits for
the fiscal third quarter, which ends on March 31, would come in at 42 cents to 43 cents a share.
The current Wall Street consensus estimate is 43 cents a share, unchanged from the same quarter last year, according to First
It cited sluggish PC demand and a slowdown in technology spending by businesses. But it forecast in January that despite the
slower quarter, profits for the full year would still be $1.80 to $1.82 a share.
TECH EXPECTATIONS SHREDDED
Connor's remarks on Friday came as two brokerages trimmed estimates for Microsoft revenue and earnings, citing a warning
by top computer chip maker Intel Corp. on Thursday that its sales would fall amid weak demand for personal computers and
Microsoft stock closed down $2-9/16 Friday at $56-11/16 on Nasdaq after earlier falling as low as $54-7/8. The stock is
about half of its year high of $115 set last March.
Microsoft's fortunes are tied closely to Intel's, which makes the chips most PCs run on. When PC sales slow, so do Intel chip
sales, and so does Microsoft revenue from its core Windows franchise.
Other technology companies that have issued warnings in recent weeks include Yahoo! Inc., the Internet portal that competes
with Microsoft's MSN division, and Sun Microsystems Inc. and Oracle Corp., two of Microsoft's biggest rivals in corporate
``A number of tech companies had expectations going into this year that were going to be very difficult to meet regardless of the
economic environment, and the economic environment has really shredded those expectations dramatically,'' Connors said.
TAX CUT BOOST?
In the interview, Connors said Microsoft was hoping that President George W. Bush's tax cut plan, which still needs approval
of the Senate, would help boost consumer spending as the company prepares to launch a new version of Windows.
``We're really very focused on what the Federal Reserve is doing and how quickly President Bush and his administration can
get the tax bill passed, which I think would be a very big positive to consumer confidence, along with more tax cuts,'' Connors
The Fed's Federal Open Market Committee is widely expected to cut interest rates by 50 basis points at its next regular
meeting scheduled for March 20. The House on Thursday approved a $1.6 trillion, 10-year tax cut.
``More importantly, inflation is low, productivity is still high ... so if consumer confidence can get buoyed a little bit I think we
could see things stabilize,'' Connors said.
The second half of the year is seen as a crucial time for Microsoft, which will launch Windows XP, the successor to its flagship
product Windows 2000, and try to build steam behind Office XP, the new version of its suite of business software that includes
the Word document editor and Excel spreadsheet.
Microsoft would offer an incentive program to try to spur migration to the new Office, Connors said. Customers who buy
existing versions of Office between the start of the program and the time Office XP goes on sale could get a free upgrade to the
``We are hopeful that as we go into calendar 2001 and beyond with the best product and service line-up we've had in years,
that the economy, in the U.S. particularly, stabilizes and we're real watchful of that,'' Connors said.