Are Microsoft Earnings Better Than They Look?

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Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) reported fourth fiscal quarter and full-year 2015 results after markets closed Tuesday. The software behemoth reported adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.62 on revenues of $22.18 billion. In the same period last year the company reported EPS of $0.55 on revenues of $23.38 billion. The consensus estimates called for EPS of $0.56 on revenues of $22.06 billion.

For the full year Microsoft’s adjusted EPS totaled $2.63 on revenues of $93.58 billion compared with EPS of $2.63 and revenues of $86.83 billion in the 2014 fiscal year. Consensus estimates called for EPS of $2.42 on revenues of $93.48 billion. On a GAAP basis EPS totaled $1.48.

Earlier this month Microsoft said it was firing 7,800 workers, mostly in the phone business it acquired from Nokia and would record an impairment charge of about $7.6 billion and restructuring costs of $750 to $850 million. The restructuring charge of $780 million was recorded in the fourth quarter, as was a $7.5 billion impairment charge. For fiscal year 2015, impairment, integration, and restructuring charges totaled $10.0 billion, compared with $127 million in the prior year.

On a constant currency basis, full-year revenue dropped 2% both on a GAAP and non-GAAP basis. EPS was up 8% on a non-GAAP basis.

During the quarter, Microsoft returned $6.7 billion to shareholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends.

Commercial cloud revenue rose 88%% (up 96% in constant currency) and Windows volume licensing revenue declined 8% (down 4% in constant currency). The company now claims more than 15.2 million subscribers to its Office 365 Consumer subscription base, up by nearly 3 million sequentially.

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

The consensus estimate for the company’s first fiscal quarter EPS is $0.65 on revenues of $22.76 billion. For the full fiscal year ending in June 2016, EPS is forecast at $2.83 on revenues of $96.24 billion.

The company’s CFO, Amy Hood, said:

We finished the fiscal year with solid progress against our strategic priorities, through strong execution and financial discipline, which is reflected in our results for the quarter and the year

Windows 10 is set to be released into the wild on July 29th. Microsoft is giving the software away to registered users of Windows 7 and 8 for 12 months.

Investors must not have believed Microsoft’s warning two weeks ago about the large charges it would be taking in the fourth quarter because they are hammering the stock again today. It’s a little hard to figure because, excepting the one-time charges, the world’s largest software company looks like it had a pretty good quarter and year.

Today’s report is pushing the share price down about 3.7% at $45.52 in after-hours trading. The stock closed at $47.28 and its 52-week range is $40.12 to $50.05. Prior to today’s release Thomson/Reuters had a consensus price target of $50.13 on the company’s shares.

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