Microsoft Profit Falls on Sluggish Demand for Windows

Microsoft Profit Falls on Sluggish Demand for Windows
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Microsoft Corp on Monday reported a fall in its quarterly profit that was in line with Wall Street forecasts, as sluggish personal computer sales dampened demand for Windows software and the company struggled with the impact of the strong U.S. dollar.

Shares of the world's largest software company, which have surged to 14 year highs in the past few months, fell 3 percent in after-hours trading, to $45.63.

"While currency is a headwind for Microsoft and other large international companies, we would characterize the headline numbers as good enough, although some bulls may have been hoping for a bigger beat," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.

Microsoft's flagship Windows business has been under pressure for three years as PC sales have declined, although the market appears to be stabilizing in recent months.

Currency shifts against the strong U.S. dollar also crimped profit in the fiscal second quarter, ended Dec. 31, although Microsoft did not specify by how much. Microsoft gets almost three-quarters of its revenue from overseas, but a significant amount of that is still in U.S. dollars.

"Overall, the only surprise I think was in commercial licensing, where we had a little bit of a headwind from foreign exchange as well as macro conditions in China and Japan," the company's chief financial officer, Amy Hood, said in a phone interview with Reuters.

Commercial licensing is chiefly sales of Windows and Office to business customers, which is Microsoft's biggest revenue generator.

Microsoft reported profit of $5.86 billion, or 71 cents per share for the latest quarter, compared with $6.56 billion, or 78 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Sales rose 8 percent to $26.47 billion, largely due to the acquisition of Nokia's phone handset business last year.

Analysts had expected revenue of $26.3 billion and earnings of 71 cents per share, on average, including some restructuring costs.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Marguerita Choy and Leslie Adler)

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