Microsoft guides conservatively again

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

Microsoft (MSFT) guides on its CC for FQ4 revenue of $20.4B-$21B, slightly below a $21.04B consensus. The company's FQ3 guidance proved conservative, and investors are assuming as much for its FQ4 outlook.

The revenue outlook for individual reporting groups: devices & consumer licensing $4.1B-$4.3B, D&C hardware $1.3B-$1.5B, D&C other $1.9B, commercial licensing $11B-$11.2B, commercial other $2.1B.

Xbox channel inventory drawdown is expected to impact D&C hardware, and a lower impact from Win. 7 upgrades caused by the end of XP support will affect D&C licensing. Commercial other is expected to see ~10% Q/Q growth on the back of cloud services (Office 365, Azure) demand.

Opex is expected to grow 4% Y/Y to $8.4B-$8.6B after adjusting for an EU fine. Capex is expected to total $1.5B (cloud investments), and unearned revenue to grow in line with seasonality. A tax rate of 18%-20% is forecast.

Microsoft's unearned revenue balance rose 14% Y/Y in FQ3 to $19.5B, topping guidance and exceeding FQ2's 12% clip. Bookings rose 6%, down from FQ2's 12%. The company's contracted but not billed balance closed above $22B (up over $1B Y/Y).

MSFT +2.7% AH. FQ3 results, details, earnings slides (.ppt), guidance (.ppt), prepared remarks (.doc)