Microsoft is expected to report a sharp rise in quarterly profit this week, boosted by surging revenue as strong computer sales drive demand for its Windows operating system and Office software. Investors will also look at its full-year outlook to see if the world's largest software maker can maintain momentum from a strong first quarter in the face of growing concerns over the U.S. economy. Microsoft reports fiscal second-quarter results on Thursday.
Economic concerns and stock market declines have erased the share price gains that followed its first-quarter results, but analysts said personal computer sales figures last week suggest any economic softness did not weigh on year-end demand.
"We're looking for Microsoft to continue to have positive results. Last quarter was one of the best we've seen from it in a very long time and we think the company is certainly headed in the right direction," said Andy Miedler, technology analyst at Edward Jones. Analysts, on average, forecast Microsoft to post a 66 percent rise in quarterly net profit to $4.35 billion, or 46 cents per share, on a 27 percent increase in revenue to $15.93 billion, according to Reuters Estimates. Those growth rates are exaggerated by the 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. Last week, research firm IDC said global PC sales rose 15.5 percent in the October-to-December period, while rival firm Gartner put worldwide computer sales growth at 13.1 percent.
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