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Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer listens to a question at this week’s shareholders meeting.

What about the stock price?

That’s the perennial question from the floor at Microsoft’s annual shareholders meeting, but in his final appearance at the meeting as CEO, Steve Ballmer came armed with a pair of statistics designed to counter those who criticize his tenure as the company’s leader.

It’s “hard to predict share prices, but at the end of the day, they have to have something to do with profit,” he said in response to the question from a shareholder at the meeting Tuesday morning. “Our stock price is 60 percent, maybe, of what it was when I took over as CEO. Profits are three times what they were when I took over as CEO. Now, I don’t know how to answer your question. But what I do know is, if we continue to make the investments that lead to valuable products that people will pay for in a way that generates profit, the stock price responds to that.”

Checking Ballmer’s math, Microsoft’s net income was, in fact, $7.8 billion in 1999, the year before he became CEO, and $21.8 billion in fiscal 2013.

He’s also in the ballpark on the share price over the past 13 years. More recently, Microsoft’s stock is actually up more than 34 percent this year, but that’s due in part to news of Ballmer’s impending departure and investor speculation about major moves that could be taken by his successor.

Responding to another shareholder’s question, Ballmer did acknowledge and take responsibility for the company’s failed $6.3 billion aQuantive acquisition. “Certainly our aQuantive acquisition is not going to go down on the record books as a success. It wasn’t, and I take responsibility for that.”

He defended the pending $7.2 billion Nokia smartphone acquisition as critical for Microsoft’s move into devices, saying the company should be mindful and cautious as it makes acquisitions, but not fearful about doing larger deals to expand its business.

Previously on GeekWire

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