If Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) is really as dead as many of the critics maintain, you wouldn’t know it if you just look at the credit ratings agencies. In mid-day trading on Monday came word from Fitch Ratings that it was maintaining a “AA+” rating on Microsoft after a recent note offering. The outlook is also listed as “Stable.”
Fitch said, “Fitch anticipates modest revenue growth in fiscal year 2013 as the launch of Windows 8 and continued strength in the Server and Tools segment will be offset by macro headwinds and declines in PC unit volume in 2012. Fitch expects new PC product launches such as ultrabooks and hybrid PC/tablets will be successful and strengthen Microsoft’s competitive position relative to Apple.”
Other positive mentions were that the Surface tablet would be a commercial success and even that Microsoft position in the mobile phone market has improved in the last year with revenues of $4 to $15 per phone. Fitch even considered the outlook “Stable” despite the expectation that Online and Entertainment & Devices will remain a drag on profitability on an intermediate term. Still, the report is calling for $15 billion in free cash flow per year being strong enough to maintain dividend hikes and share buybacks.
Among the risk factors, greater market gains by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and greater challenges from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) in lower-priced document software and Chrome O/S could challenge that stability of the ratings, Fitch also said that upside movement on the ratings is unlikely.
JON C. OGG