Microsoft Posts Slight Q1 Growth, Lowers Outlook

Multiyear annuity sales lifted Microsoft's revenue 9 percent for the first quarter of fiscal 2009, but the company lowered guidance for its second quarter as crisis grips the global economy, news that came as no surprise to financial analysts.

Microsoft reported revenue of US$15.06 billion for the first quarter, which ended Sept. 30, with earnings per share of $0.48. Both numbers beat consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters analysts, who expected the company to earn $14.78 billion for the quarter on EPS of $0.47.

Operating income for the quarter was $6 billion, while net income was $4.37 billion, Microsoft reported.

While the quarter overall was strong, Microsoft lowered its revenue and EPS expectations for the second quarter, as financial analysts expected they would before results were announced Thursday.

New guidance for the second quarter, which ends Dec. 31, is in the range of $17.3 billion to $17.8 billion for revenue and $0.51 to $0.53 for diluted EPS. Previously, the company said it expected about $18 billion in revenue with EPS of $0.55 for the second quarter.

Microsoft is expected to offer more detail on these changes in a conference call Thursday, but analysts said the economic crisis in the U.S. that is spreading around the globe is likely the reason for Microsoft lowering its guidance.

Prior to Microsoft's statement about its financials Thursday, analysts expressed concern that IT spending in the U.S. would slow due to the crisis and that PC unit growth, a core driver of Microsoft's Windows client business, would not meet current market assumptions of 10.3 percent growth for the year.

For the first quarter, however, the client business was a key reason for Microsoft's positive results, the company said. Recurring revenue from a combination of the client segment as well as the Microsoft Business and Server and Tools divisions grew 20 percent during the quarter and contributed heavily to overall revenue growth, Microsoft said in a statement.

(More to follow.)

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