Microsoft pares gains as Street mulls post-Ballmer era

|About: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)|By:, SA News Editor

Though the reaction to the news Steve Ballmer plans to retire within 12 months has been almost uniformly positive, opinions vary considerably on how big of an impact new leadership will have.

BI's Jay Yarow reports Microsoft's (MSFT +5.5%) board isn't forcing Ballmer out, and is in "lockstep" with his vision of Microsoft's transformation into a devices/services company.

Long-time Microsoft follower Mary Jo Foley provides a list of potential replacements. It includes Redmond execs such as COO Kevin Turner and ex-Skype CEO Tony Bates, as well as ex-employees such as Steven Sinofsky, (Nokia CEO) Stephen Elop, and (ex-Juniper CEO) Kevin Johnson.

Microsoft's reorg, which breaks up the company's silo-like business divisions into functional units, should give the company's next CEO plenty of freedom to mount initiatives that span disparate product lines.

Morgan Stanley thinks Microsoft shares remain a steal. Stifel argues it's time to take profits, and that estimate cuts are on the way.

Ballmer owns 333M Microsoft shares. That means he's $600M wealthier than he was before announcing his resignation.

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