Microsoft Fined By the EU; Stock Implications

Includes: MSFT, RNWK
by: David Jackson

Excerpt from our One Page Annotated Wall Street Journal Summary (receive it by email every morning by signing up here):

EU Fines Microsoft $357 Million

  • Summary: The EU fined Microsoft $357 million for failing to comply with its 2004 antitrust order to share code with rivals allowing them to develop Windows-compatible programs. The EU Competition Commissioner also threatened a fine of 3 million euros ($3.82 million) per day beginning July 31st until Microsoft complies. Microsoft provided 12,000 pages of technicl documentation, but the EU judged it unworkable. Microsoft says that it has 300 people working full time to provide the information, and that the EU shifted the goal posts. The EU says the fine is unrelated to the current work. Microsoft lost an appeal against the original ruling but can still appeal to the European Court of Justice. It may also appeal the ruling Wednesday to fine the company again.
  • Comment on related stocks/ETFs: Eddy Elfenbein correctly thinks the new daily fine is significant. The fixed $357m fine should have less impact on Microsoft's stock (NASDAQ:MSFT) due to the company's massive cash flow generation and the amount of cash on its balance sheet. The EU's tough stance is potentially more impactful on Microsoft's competitive position and ability to exploit its dominance of the operating system market. Potentially positive for Real Networks (NASDAQ:RNWK).

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