Sep. 8, 2014, 6:36 AM
- Following heavy scrutiny from China's antitrust regulator, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has received another blow in China, losing a top exec to Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU).
- Zhang Yaqin, Microsoft's vice president and chairman of its Asian-Pacific research and development group, will now depart to become Baidu's president for new business.
- Zhang was a high-profile Microsoft exec involved in the country's emerging R&D scene. He also served on Microsoft's executive management committee, advising on its China strategy.
Sep. 4, 2014, 11:50 AM
- Microsoft's (MSFT +0.4%) Lumia 830 delivers a PureView camera at a lower unsubsidized price point (€330/$429) than existing PureView hardware. Like the high-end Lumia 930, the 830 combines PureView with a 5" display and aluminum body, but its resolution (720p vs. 1080p) and CPU (1.2GHz. quad-core) have been downgraded.
- Nonetheless, The Verge likes the 830's lower weight/thickness relative to the 930, and (during a brief test) was impressed with the 10MP camera's daylight shots. "This is the handset the 930 should have been."
- Also launched: The Lumia 730 and 735, proclaimed by Microsoft to be "selfie" phones due to their inclusion of 5MP front cameras with a wide-angle lens and a fast f/2.4 aperture. Other specs are largely mid-range - a 4.7" 720p display, a 6.7MP rear camera (albeit with Carl Zeiss optics), and the same CPU as the 830 - as are respective retail prices of €199 and €219. The 735 differs from the 730 through its LTE support.
- The phone launches coincide with the release of Lumia Denim, a Windows Phone 8.1 update that includes a Cortana voice assistant revamp - a feature called "Hey Cortana" enables Google Now-like hands-free activation - and a slew of camera improvements.
- With app support remaining a concern for many, IDC estimates Windows Phone had only a 2.5% smartphone share in Q2, down from 3.4% a year earlier. Shipments are estimated to have fallen by 800K to 7.4M.
- Thanks in large part to feature phone declines, Microsoft has forecast its phone unit will see revenue fall to $1.9B-$2.3B in the Sep. quarter from $3.9B a year ago. 12.5K of Microsoft's 18K job cuts are expected to hit the phone division, roughly cutting its size by half.
Sep. 1, 2014, 4:01 AM
- China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce has given Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) 20 days to respond to queries resulting from its investigation into the compatability of its Windows operating system and Office software suite.
- At least 30 foreign companies have been recently probed by Chinese regulators as the government seeks to enforce a 2008 anti-trust law.
- Microsoft says it is "serious about complying with China's laws and committed to addressing SAIC's questions and concerns".
Aug. 26, 2014, 7:15 PM
- Following the release of Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold, expected in spring 2015), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) plans to do away with its traditional approach of launching major Windows releases every few years in favor of "regular, incremental updates," ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley reports.
- A similar update schedule will exist for Windows Phone, set to merge with the flatlining Windows RT and act as a joint phone/tablet platform. Among other things, Satya Nadella's July memo promised Microsoft plans to "streamline [its] engineering process and reduce the amount of time and energy it takes to get things done."
- Foley doesn't know if Microsoft will keep charging upgrade fees (perhaps through a subscription), or follow Apple's lead in making its PC OS updates free. Microsoft recently removed license fees for sub-9" Windows hardware.
- The technical preview for Windows 9/Threshold is expected in late September or early October. All signs suggest the OS will feature the return of the Start menu, along with the ability to show Metro-style live tiles in desktop mode.
- Foley's latest scoop comes as Bloomberg reports Apple is working on a 12.9" iPad, a device that could be positioned as more of a laptop replacement than the 9.7" and 7.9" models.
Aug. 26, 2014, 2:27 AM
- After conducting a number of recent investigations into Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Chinese operations, China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce has found that the company's software sales were not fully transparent, but acknowledged that Microsoft was cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
- Chinese regulators have recently clamped down on many foreign firms operating in China over anti-monopoly concerns.
Aug. 21, 2014, 11:43 AM
- Hedge funds are having a difficult time of it again this year, up 1% vs. a 7.5% gain for the S&P 500, according to Goldman Sachs, which crunched the numbers on 775 funds with $1.9T in AUM.
- Nevertheless, Goldman's list of 50 stocks which "matter most" to hedge funds has outperformed the S&P 500 on a quarterly basis 66% of the time since 2001. The stocks this quarter (posted in order of the number of funds in which a name is a top-10 holding):
- ACT, AAPL, FB, AGN, AAL, GM, TWC, AIG, MSFT, HTZ, CHTR, MU, WMB, LNG, C, DAL, HCA, APC, CBS, ALLY, GOOGL, APD, NRF, BAC, EBAY, LBTYK, PCLN, VRX, BIDU, DTV, DISH, DG, EQIX, MA, WAG, ARCP, GILD, LINTA, MON, FOXA, VC, AMZN, BRK.A, BRK.B, SUNE, CMCSA, JPM, MIC, CCI, HES, LAMR.
- A special call-out to Northstar Realty (NYSE:NRF), Visteon (NYSE:VC), SunEdison (NYSE:SUNE), Macquarie Infrastructure (NYSE:MIC), and Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR) for making the list of hedge fund hotels despite their relatively tiny market caps.
Aug. 21, 2014, 3:19 AM
- Norwegian software maker Opera (OTCPK:OPESY) has signed a deal with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to take over browser building at its Nokia mobile phone unit.
- "We have signed a strategic licensing deal with Microsoft...taking over the browser building department in Nokia," says Opera CEO Lars Boilsesen. "This means that Opera Mini will become the default browser for Microsoft's feature phone product lines and the Asha phones product lines."
Aug. 19, 2014, 2:20 PM
- Six months after stepping down as CEO, Steve Ballmer has resigned from Microsoft's (MSFT -0.1%) board.
- Ballmer: "In the six months since leaving, I have become very busy. I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time ... I hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock. I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future."
- The announcement comes a day after Ballmer made a headline-grabbing debut as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, replete with the on-stage theatrics Microsoft employees know all too well.
- Microsoft shares are up 42% since Ballmer announced a year ago he would be resigning as CEO.
Aug. 5, 2014, 6:50 PM
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has hired Peggy Johnson, an EVP for Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) chip unit (Qualcomm Technologies), to be its new business development chief. Johnson arrives 5 months after Microsoft announced her predecessor, one-time CEO candidate Tony Bates, is leaving.
- At Qualcomm, Johnson was responsible for creating new business opportunities and strategic relationships, a role not too different from the one she'll have at Microsoft. Johnson was also in charge of Qualcomm Labs, the mobile chip/IP giant's business incubation arm.
- "Peggy shares our worldview and knows what it takes to drive new growth in mobility and the cloud," says Satya Nadella. The hiring of a mobile exec to run business development comes shortly after Microsoft added mobile industry vet John Stanton to its board.
Aug. 1, 2014, 6:11 PM
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has sued Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) for alleged breach of contract over unpaid Android royalty payments related to the companies' 2011 licensing deal.
- Microsoft suggests Samsung stopped paying per-device royalties in late 2013 due to the Nokia deal, with Samsung arguing the deal nullifies the 2011 pact. Microsoft wants a ruling on Samsung's claim, and is also seeking unpaid interest.
- Likely at issue: Samsung and Nokia have a patent cross-licensing deal in place for each others' patents, one that was extended for 5 years last November. Though the deal involves payments from Samsung to Nokia, Nokia's phone unit (now a part of Microsoft) has made use of Samsung's IP through it. That opens the door to Samsung arguing a new/separate cross-licensing deal with Microsoft is needed.
- The financial implications of the legal spat could be big: Though struggling a bit lately, Samsung still had a 25.2% Q2 smartphone unit share (per IDC).
- Surging Android royalties led Microsoft's "Windows Phone" revenue to rise $1.2B in FY13 (ended June '13). With Samsung apparently halting payments midway, "Windows Phone" licensing revenue grew by $822M in FY14 to $2.54B. Nokia payments accounted for $382M of the total.
Aug. 1, 2014, 4:55 AM
- U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska has ruled that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) must turn over a customer's emails stored in a data center in Ireland to the U.S. government, following the company's refusal to do so due to privacy concerns.
- AT&T, Apple, Cisco and Verizon have all backed Microsoft's objection to hand over the information, as they are concerned about billions of dollars in revenue loss if customers fear their data is subject to seizure by U.S. investigators anywhere in the world.
- Microsoft and other U.S. companies have challenged the criminal search warrant for the emails, stating federal authorities cannot seize customer information held in foreign countries. However, Preska says, "It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information."
Jul. 29, 2014, 6:30 AM
- Chinese regulators are investigating Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) over anti-monopoly concerns, saying the firm did not fully disclose information about its Windows operating system and Microsoft Office application.
- China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce is additionally probing the company's vice president and senior managers, and has made copies of the firm's financial statements and contracts.
Jul. 23, 2014, 8:09 AM
- "We are becoming more constructive on Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) as the company starts to provide more compelling evidence of its move to the cloud," says Pacific Crest's Brendan Barnicle, boosting the stock to Outperform with $54 price target. He notes an acceleration in the company's cloud business last quarter thanks to increased adoption of its Azure and Office 365 offerings.
- BofA's Kash Rangan throws in the towel on his Underperform rating, saying his team's concerns are apparently not so worrisome to those who invest in the stock.
- Shares +2.3% premarket
- Previously: Microsoft Corporation misses by $0.06, beats on revenue
Jul. 22, 2014, 6:58 PM
- Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) guides on its FQ4 CC for FQ1 revenue of $21.2B-$22.3B, below a $23.1B consensus. But the company has shown a habit of guiding conservatively in recent quarters.
- Also likely playing a role: The Nokia phone unit (about to see massive job cuts) is expected to see FQ1 revenue of $1.9B-$2.3B; that's down from a year-ago level of $3.9B. 5.8M Lumia phones were sold in FQ4 during the 2 months following the closing of the Nokia deal, with low-end phones making up "a majority" of the volume; 7.4M Lumias were sold over the unit's full June quarter last year.
- Microsoft's unearned revenue balance rose 13% Y/Y to $25.2B. Its contracted not billed balance totaled $24B (up $3B Y/Y), and total bookings rose 29% (20% exc. Nokia).
- Other details: 1) Office commercial revenue (inc. Office 365) grew 4%. 2) Surface revenue totaled $409M, and 1.1M Xboxes were sold. 3) The benefit to Windows business revenue that came from the end of XP support "moderated" towards the end of FQ4. 4) $1.3B was spent on capex in FQ4, and $5.5B overall in FY14. 5) "Commercial licensing" accounted for 65% of FQ4 gross profit.
- MSFT +1.3% AH. Earnings slides (.ppt), guidance (.ppt).
- Prior Microsoft earnings coverage
Jul. 22, 2014, 4:18 PM
- Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Commercial revenue rose 11% Y/Y in FQ4 to $13.48B, an improvement from FQ3's 7% growth. Commercial cloud revenue +147% ($4.4B/year run rate), Windows volume licensing +11%, enterprise services +11%, SQL Server and System each up double-digits.
- Thanks to two months of Nokia phone revenue, devices & consumer revenue rose 42% to $10B. Windows OEM revenue +3%, with Pro revenue rising 9% and non-Pro revenue falling 9%.
- Office consumer revenue +21%, with the Office 365 home/personal sub base growing by over 1M to 5.6M+. Bing search ad revenue rose 40%, but display ad sales fell 11%.
- The Nokia unit contributed $1.99B in revenue, but only $54M in gross profit. It took an $0.08 toll on EPS. On the other hand, the end of Microsoft's commercial agreement with Nokia provided a $382M one-time op. profit boost.
- MSFT +0.2% AH. CC at 5:30PM, guidance will be provided.
- FQ4 results, PR
Jul. 22, 2014, 4:08 PM| 2 Comments
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Microsoft Corp is engaged in designing, manufacturing, selling devices, and online advertising to a global customer audience. Its products include operating systems for computing devices, servers, phones, and other intelligent devices.
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