$6.9 Billion profit? Not bad, not bad at all
Tonight Microsoft announced its Q4 results for fiscal 2012. Everywhere you turn, the media is writing about how the Redmond giant just reported its first loss ever. People writing these headlines are either clueless as to financial reporting, or in search of headline bait. But since everyone is doing it, it’s pretty crap headline bait.
So here’s the simple truth: Microsoft reported an extremely profitable quarter with respect to its regular operations. On top of this it also made the decision to write down the value of assets pertaining to a company it acquired back in 2007. The acquisition of aQuantive, a digital advertising company, didn’t contribute to Microsoft’s advertising platform as expected. When stuff like that happens, you write down the value of those assets on the balance sheet. The write down is a wave of the accounting magic wand. It does not represent a cash expense.
Microsoft posted an operating income of $6.9 billion profit, translating to $0.73 per share (a metric Wall Street cares about). Windows, Server & Tools, and the Microsoft Business Division are all operating on all cylinders, generating gobs of cash.
This cash funds the losses for Online Services (i.e. Bing) and the Entertainment and Devices division (which includes Skype, Xbox, and Windows Phone).
The company didn’t have too much to say about Windows Phone on the conference call. As part of the prepared remarks, Microsoft said:
"For Windows Phone, there are now approximately 100,000 apps in the marketplace and Windows Phone unit sales grew more than 50% sequentially. In June, we announced that Windows Phone 8 will arrive later this year. Windows Phone 8 is based on the same core technologies that power Windows 8 and it will unleash a new wave of features for consumers, developers, and businesses."
During the Q&A portion of the call, analysts didn’t even mention Windows Phone. I wouldn’t say Wall Street doesn’t care about Microsoft’s mobile strategy, but they certainly don’t care about it in the near term. It just doesn’t move the needle.
Naturally none of this matters much to the guys at Microsoft who are busy running the business. They’ve got a product, Windows Phone 8, to launch. And with the health of the mother ship, driven by Enterprise, this is a company that has essentially unlimited resources to get to market and fight for share.
So there you have it. The truth about Microsoft is that Wall Street loved the results, and doesn’t care one bit about the accounting loss driven by a 2007 acquisition. The past is the past. Unfortunately much of the media world doesn’t get that. The story for Microsoft, this quarter, is the strength of its enterprise business. Windows Phone Central readers can take comfort in knowing the Redmond Giant ain’t goin’ anywhere.