Overall: The bar isn’t high. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect Microsoft to report revenue of $20.9 billion, up 5 percent from the same quarter a year ago, and earnings per share of 76 cents, down from 77 cents a year ago.
Skype: It will be the first quarterly report to reflect Microsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype, whose presence will put some new wrinkles into the company’s books. Microsoft previously boosted its operating expense projections for the current fiscal year by about $600 million (to a range of $28.6 bilion to $29.2 billion) to reflect the addition of Skype’s operations and acquisition-related expenses. The big question is how the Skype business is doing in the short run, and how it might add to Microsoft’s business over time. We’ll be listening for any clues to that effect in the Microsoft report.
Windows PCs: Flooding in Thailand has disrupted the supply of computer hard drives, impacting PC shipments, a key driver of Microsoft’s Windows business. During briefings with financial analysts at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, Microsoft executives said the impact has been felt faster than some people had been expecting, without giving specific numbers. Analyst Rick Sherlund of Nomura Equity Markets afterward changed his estimated decline in PC shipments for the December quarter to 7 percent, from a previous projection of a 1 percent decline.
Xbox 360: It was a big holiday for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, capping a big year for the company’s video-game business overall. The question is how that will translate into Microsoft’s financial results. For the September quarter, revenue in the company’s Entertainment and Devices Division was up 9 percent, to $1.96 billion, but operating profit fell 9 percent to $352 million, as thee company felt the effects of higher royalty costs for content sold in the Xbox Live marketplace.
Other areas: We’ll also be listening closely for any hint of Windows Phone unit sales, and checking sales of Microsoft Office, Windows Server and SQL Server to get a sense for business technology spending, in addition to watching the trend in Microsoft’s Online Services Division as Bing starts to gain more traction in the search business.
Check back with GeekWire on Thursday afternoon for coverage of the results.