Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), the world's largest software maker, is scheduled to release fiscal first-quarter earnings before the opening bell on Thursday, October 21, 2010. Analysts, on average, expect the company to report earnings of 55 cents per share on revenue of $15.88 billion. In the year-ago quarter, the company reported earnings of 40 cents per share on revenue of $12.92 billion.
Microsoft Corporation develops, manufactures and supports a range of software products and services for different types of computing devices. It has five business segments: Client, Server and Tools, Online Services Business, Microsoft Business Division, and Entertainment and Devices Division.
In the preceding fiscal-fourth quarter, the Redmond, Washington-based company's net income was $4.5 billion, or 51 cents a share, compared to $3 billion, or 34 cents a share, in the prior-year quarter. Revenue grew 22% to $16.04 billion from $13.1 billion in the same quarter last year. Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of 46 cents a share on revenue of $15.27 billion. The company's fiscal-fourth quarter results benefited from strong PC refresh and robust sales of its Windows 7 operating system and Office 2010.
According to market research firm IDC, shipments of personal computers will rise 17 percent this year, less than previously forecast, as second-half shipments will be hurt by a "persistently bleak employment outlook" in the United States. However, the firm asserts that strong commercial sales will help offset some of the weakness even as consumer PC growth slows.
The company is trying hard to capture a bigger share of the online search advertising market. Since it launched Bing in June this year, Microsoft has been steadily gaining ground. According to market research firm Nielsen, Bing's market share grew by two percentage points during August, reaching an overall share of 13.9 percent. In US, Bing has now become the second most used search engine after Google.
Recently, Microsoft officially released Internet Explorer 9, the latest version of its popular browser software.
Early in August, Microsoft Corp announced that it has settled its patent litigation with Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM) through a patent agreement providing mutual coverage.
Among other developments, Microsoft Corp. recently announced that its board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.16 per share, reflecting a 3 cent or 23 percent increase over the previous quarter's dividend. The company also sold $4.75 billion of bonds, some of it at the lowest U.S. corporate borrowing rates in history for corporate debt on record. Microsoft intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes, which may include funding for working capital, capital expenditures, repurchases of stock and acquisitions.
In terms of stock performance, Microsoft shares have lost nearly 18 percent since the beginning of the year.
Disclosure: Author doesn't own any of the stocks discussed here.