Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s positive comments about the company’s financial outlook during his Seattle Rotary Club appearance yesterday appear to be causing a minor stir in the stock market today, lifting Microsoft shares by about 1 percent.
The Redmond company’s fiscal year ends today, so it’s easy to see why the numbers were on Ballmer’s mind. It’s very unusual for the company to signal its earnings in advance in this way. But it’s also important to note that the numbers given by Ballmer are essentially in line with what analysts were already predicting for the company.
Also interesting was Ballmer’s almost defiant acknowledgement that the company is continuing to lose billions on its search initiative, as Microsoft spends money to generate traffic and integrate with Yahoo in its ongoing quest to catch Google.
Ballmer made the comments as part of a broader defense of the company’s business and its prospects for growth. See the full excerpt below, from GeekWire’s John Cook, who was covering the event.
“At Microsoft, we believe in our opportunity. We are investing in those opportunities. We are building the products that, we hope, are the difference makers. We have been very fortunate. We have made bets. We’ve built products. We’ve made a difference. There’s a reason why we’ll do almost $70 billion in revenue this year, and we will make over $20, whatever, $26, $27 billion in profits. There are reasons. We make the right bets. We are making the bets for the future.
“We are betting on the future of these devices that understand you and recognize you, the next-generation of Windows PCs and Windows slates, the next-generations of phones, Windows Phones, the next-generation of technology in your living room with Xbox and Kinect. We are relentless and irrepressible in … search because we think that is such an important technology and there’s so much chance, in the ways that talked about, to innovate. And so while we may lose a few billion dollars this year on our investment in Bing, we are irrepressibly committed to that bet.”
The profit figure was an apparent reference to operating income. Microsoft posted $24.1 billion in operating income last fiscal year on revenue of $62.48 billion, which would translate into a 12 percent increase on the top line based on the almost $70 billion” figure cited by Ballmer in his remarks.