Microsoft Misses

Even Microsoft isn’t immune from the disappointing results that have plagued companies this quarter.

Normally the steadiest of companies, Microsoft reported fiscal first-quarter earnings late Thursday that were just above analysts’ estimates, but the company’s sales and guidance both came in below Wall Street’s expectations.

Microsoft’s earnings of 31 cents a share were a penny ahead of estimates. Sales rose 6% to $9.74 billion, but that was below the $9.78 billion that analysts were looking for. Looking ahead, the software giant said it expects fiscal second-quarter revenues of $11.9-$12 billion, below the $12.29 billion analysts were hoping for. Microsoft’s earnings guidance of 32-33 cents a share for the quarter was below 35-cent estimates.

Microsoft’s results and guidance were the latest indication that the holiday shopping season may be a little weak this year. Microsoft plans a number of releases in the quarter, including the Xbox 360 and the latest SQL Server release.

Microsoft said its results were driven by “healthy demand” for its core platform software and by growth in PC and server shipments. Server and Tools posted double-digit year-over-year revenue growth, and Mobile and Embedded Devices revenue was up more than 50% due to strong adoption of Windows Mobile software.

The company said it plans to accelerate its buyback plan to repurchase $19 billion in shares by the end of 2006.

Microsoft shares slipped 1.5% after hours on top of a 1% decline during the day.

Stocks tumbled during the day on worries about GM’s health and possible indictments of senior Bush Administration officials. Third-quarter GDP will be reported Friday morning. Analysts believe the economy grew 3.6% in the quarter; much stronger than that could fuel inflation fears.

The Nasdaq tumbled 36 to 2063, the S&P 500 lost 12 to 1178, and the Dow fell 115 to 10,229. Volume declined to 2.41 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.79 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 24-8 on the NYSE, and 23-7 on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 82% on the NYSE, and 86% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 40-229 on the NYSE, and 42-128 on the Nasdaq.

Corning bucked the downtrend, jumping 6% on better than expected results. tumbled 13% after missing earnings estimates, and Digital River plunged 26% on a warning.

Ariba and Openwave rose on their results, while LSI fell on its results.

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