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Three Kings Bearing Profits

"Microsoft took note of Google Inc.'s launch last week of a tool that allows computer users to search their computer hard drives with keywords. That has been an anticipated feature of the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, expected out in 2006 or 2007," The Washington Post reported. "We're going to have a great race in search between Google, Microsoft and Yahoo," said John G. Connors, the company's chief financial officer. "It's going to be really fun to follow." More from the paper: "Overall for fiscal 2005, Connors said, Microsoft is expecting solid growth in all its businesses, including gaming and its efforts to break into the home-entertainment market with its MSN music service."
The Washington Post: Microsoft Profit Is Up 11%, Forecast Is Mixed (Registration required)

The New York Times noted that "buoyed by continued strong worldwide sales of personal computers, the Microsoft Corporation yesterday reported strong growth in profits and sales even as it faces the challenges of being a mature technology company. ... Shares of Microsoft finished the day down 14 cents, to close at $28.56. They fell as much as 46 cents after the close of trading, when the results were released. Analysts said that one reason for the tepid reaction among investors was that fewer Microsoft customers than expected renewed their software subscriptions. One result was that Microsoft reported that its deferred revenue, or money that is booked from subscription sales, dropped $395 million in the quarter. ... [Connors] urged investors during a conference call not to make too much of the issue. He said that customers would eventually renew their subscriptions but had not been in a hurry because their contracts permit a grace period."
The New York Times: Sales of PCs Buoy Results at Microsoft (Registration required)

_____Filter Archive_____
Invasion of the Data Snatchers (washingtonpost.com, Oct 25, 2004)
Bush, Kerry Don't Worry About Tech (washingtonpost.com, Oct 21, 2004)
Figuring Out the Rules for VoIP (washingtonpost.com, Oct 20, 2004)
Tech Sector's Mixed Signals (washingtonpost.com, Oct 19, 2004)
Tech Giants Declare, 'United We Stand' (washingtonpost.com, Oct 18, 2004)
More Past Issues

Overall, Microsoft's earnings helped the tech sector's outlook. "The company, as it often does, slightly exceeded its own financial targets -- and Wall Street's expectations. It also nudged its guidance for sales and earnings for the current quarter a bit higher, though not as high as some analysts anticipated," USA Today said. "It's more evidence that corporate spending is on a slow, steady rebound," McAdams Wright Ragen analyst Alan Davis told USA Today. "It's not a huge growth path, but it's not overly pessimistic either."

The Wall Street Journal said, "Microsoft's earnings show how sales of personal computers help bolster the company despite still-slow business spending on technology. The results follow a mixed-bag of earnings announcements from other technology industry bellwethers including International Business Machines Corp., which this week reported solid quarterly earnings and issued a bullish forecast for technology spending this year. PC demand powered sales of Microsoft's two most important product lines, the Windows operating system and Office suite of software applications. Worldwide sales of PCs in the quarter grew 12 percent over the previous year, according to a survey this week from market researcher IDC, surpassing Microsoft's 6 percent to 8 percent growth projections."
USA Today: Tech Rivals Gain Oomph With Microsoft Earnings
The Wall Street Journal: Microsoft Profit in First Quarter Increased by 11% (Subscription required)

The Seattle Times report provided some good insight on why Wall Street reacted so differently to Microsoft in after-hours trading than it did to Google, since both companies reported strong numbers. "'From a Microsoft investor perspective, after-hours you see Google popping and you see Microsoft trading down, that might frustrate investors somewhat,' said analyst Jonathan Rudy at Standard & Poor's in New York. 'One is young and in a high-growth phase and the other is much bigger, in a more modest-growth phase,' said Drew Brosseau at SG Cowen Securities in Boston. 'They're very different investments.'"
The Seattle Times: Microsoft Profit Up 11 Percent

Amazon Overshadowed

It can't be fun to have Microsoft and Google putting out stellar results on the same day of your earnings report. Seattle-based Amazon.com reported "a quarterly profit that just missed analysts' estimates, but the company said it expects a record holiday season and outlined a heady expansion plan reminiscent of its ambitions in the dot-com years. Net income for the quarter ended Sept. 30 was $54.1 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with $15.6 million, or 4 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. ... Wall Street had expected 14 cents a share on sales of $1.47 billion, according to a survey by Thomson First Call," The Washington Post reported. "Investors responded by pushing the stock down 8.7 percent, to $36.05, in after-hours trading Thursday night."
The Washington Post: Profit Up As Amazon Adds More Products (Registration required)

One of the company's hometown papers focused on the rosier side. "International sales helped Amazon.com Inc.'s third-quarter net income surge dramatically, and the Seattle online retailer registered its fifth straight profitable quarter," the Post-Intelligencer said.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Global Sales Boost Profits In Amazon.com's 3rd Quarter

The Seattle Times took a bigger-picture approach to its coverage: "If Wall Street has one question for Amazon.com, it's this: What now? Three years ago, the online retailer responded to slowing sales by adopting the strategy of successful retailers such as Costco and Wal-Mart -- to deeply discount items and reap a profit by increasing its sales volume. Coupled with a free-shipping promotion on orders over $25, the online retailer recharged sales growth, particularly in its media business. ... But analysts this year have begun to fret over the company's gross profit margins, an indication of how profitable Amazon could become. The measurement, the difference between what it pays for goods and services and what it charges, has continued to slide as Amazon deeply discounts items to lure customers. While the company's discounting strategy has helped spur sales in the past, sales are slowing."
The Seattle Times: Amazon's Discount Strategy Worries Analysts

Amazon sees it differently. "Jeffrey P. Bezos, the company's founder and chief executive, said a decision earlier this year to offer free shipping to customers was helping to drive sales. 'Our decision to put dollars into lower prices and free shipping instead of TV advertising continues to be embraced by customers,' Mr. Bezos said," according to the New York Times. The paper had this tidbit, which may hint at things to come for the company, which is already taking on Google and Microsoft with its A9 search product. "Company officials declined to say whether Amazon.com planned to offer DVD rentals, similar to NetFlix and Blockbuster, as many analysts have speculated. Thomas J. Szkutak, the company's chief financial officer, hinted that the company was nearing such a move. 'We have no announcement to make at this time,' he said. 'It's a business we're well positioned to do.'"
The New York Times: Amazon's Profit Triples, Driven by Free Shipping (Registration required)

Ask Florida's CIO

I will be online today at 11 a.m. ET to moderate a Live Online discussion with Simone Marstiller, Florida's chief information officer. She will answer readers' questions about the challenges facing her office and the role state IT offices play during emergencies. You can submit your questions now or live during the chat. Hope to see you online!

Dead Air for Intel

Mega chip maker Intel is canceling its plans for now to be a player in the race to bring products to digital TV. "Intel suffered another setback Thursday when it canceled a chip for flat-panel television sets. The chip was a major part of the Santa Clara [Calif.] company's plan to diversify into semiconductors for consumer electronics. Intel spokesman Bill Calder said the company scrapped the 'liquid crystal on silicon' chip because it had just completed a strategic review and decided resources were better spent elsewhere," the Merc reported.
The San Jose Mercury News: Intel Cancels Chip for Flat-Panel TVs (Registration required)

CNET explained that Intel announced the chip at January's Consumer Electronics Show. "Intel President Paul Otellini said it would let television manufacturers come out with large-screen projection televisions that sell for less than $1,800 by the end of the year. Some Chinese manufacturers had agreed to build sets around the technology. This year hasn't been a good one for Intel. The company has had to delay or cancel a number of products. The last time it had a similar experience was in 2000." Intel is not alone, however, in exiting this space, the Wall Street Journal said. "Intel had planned to develop chips for rear-projection televisions using a technology called liquid crystal on silicon, or LCOS. The technology has long been pursued as a way to lower the cost of high-definition sets. But many companies have tried to enter the LCOS field, only to drop out later because of technical problems and other issues. Earlier this month, Philips Electronics NV abandoned plans to make LCOS-based TVs."
CNET's News.com: Intel Kills TV Chip Plans
The Wall Street Journal: Intel Drops Project to Make TV Chips (Subscription required)

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