Microsoft Earnings Got Pounded by Nokia Losses

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Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) reported fourth-quarter and full fiscal year 2014 results after markets closed Tuesday. The software behemoth posted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.55 on revenues of $23.38 billion. In the same period last year the company reported EPS of $0.66 on revenues of $19.93 billion. The consensus estimates called for EPS of $0.60 on revenues of $23 billion.

In the quarter, the newly acquired Nokia business contributed $1.99 billion in revenues and an operating loss of $692 million, or $0.08 per share.

Just days after announcing job cuts of 18,000, Microsoft said that its commercial cloud revenue rose 147% to an annualized run rate of $4.4 billion, hardly a game changer yet. Windows volume licensing revenue rose 11% and Windows OEM revenues rose 3%. The company added more than a million new subscribers to its Office 365 Home and Personal subscription base. Bing search revenue grew 40% and search share rose to 19.2%.

Microsoft still refuses to report unit sales on its Xbox One game controller, but did say that it sold 1.1 million Xbox consoles in the quarter, which combines sales for the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. That is only slightly more than half the 2 million total sales for Xbox in the previous quarter. Even if all those fourth-quarter units were the new Xbox One, that still leaves the company’s latest game console substantially behind the PlayStation 4 in sales.

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Microsoft did not offer guidance in its press release, but said that it would provide guidance during its conference call later in the afternoon.

The consensus estimate for first-quarter fiscal 2015 EPS is $0.64 on revenues of $23.09 billion. For the full fiscal year ending in June 2015, EPS is forecast at $2.87 on revenues of $102.21 billion.

The company’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, said:

We are galvanized around our core as a productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world, and we are driving growth with disciplined decisions, bold innovation, and focused execution.

Microsoft’s results continue to depend on Windows, which in itself is no surprise. What is surprising is how hard it is for Microsoft to make any significant change in its dependence on Windows. For the fiscal year just ended, revenues totaled $86.83 billion, of which more than $42 billion is commercial licensing revenue and nearly $19 billion is devices and consumer licensing.

The company’s profits are even more lopsided. Gross margin on software is more than 90%. Gross margin on computing and gaming hardware was 1.2% for the quarter and 9.2% for the year. Even if sales of Xbox One double, it will hardly make a difference to Microsoft. It is no wonder the Xbox production studio was shut down as part of last week’s job cut announcement.

This report pushed the share price up about 0.5% to $45.04 in after-hours trading. The stock’s 52-week range is $30.84 to $45.71. Prior to this release Thomson/Reuters had a consensus price target of around $43.80 on the company’s shares.

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