Is it too late to insert another clip into Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) "I'm a PC" ads? Right after the "I'm a PC and I don't like tweed" segment, I'd like to wedge a clip of Microsoft shareholders saying "I'm a PC and I don't like greed."
Yes, the days of fat feasts at Mr. Softy are over. Last night's fiscal first-quarter results for the world's biggest software company confirm it. Revenue inched up 9% during the period, but operating income and earnings moved just 3% and 2% forward, respectively.
The upside is that investors were actually expecting less than the $0.48-per-share profit that Microsoft scored on $15.1 billion in revenue.
Given Microsoft's many moving parts, it's safe to say that it was a mixed bag.
- Its Vista-propelled client revenue grew by just 2% and suffered a dip in operating profits.
- The company's Xbox-fueled entertainment revenue actually had a top-line dip, but made it up with a gain in operating income.
- Top-line growth is stellar at the company's online business, but unlike Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) and even Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , it can't turn a profit there.
In fact, the only two segments to show gains in both revenue and operating income were its business and server units. You have to tip your hat to Microsoft for moving more copies of Office and its server-serving wares.
It's also not shying away from the cloud computing revolution that is eating into PC-hosted solutions. The company rolled out Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online during the quarter, letting the world know that it's not going to let companies like salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM ) and NetSuite (NYSE: N ) have all of the fun.
For all of fiscal 2009, Microsoft sees a profit of $2.00 to $2.10 a share, on $64.9 billion to $66.4 billion in revenue. Even at the high end, the outlook falls short of the $2.11 a share on $66.5 billion in revenue that Mr. Market was expecting out of Mr. Softy.
It's not much in terms of growth, but at least it's inching in the right direction. Even with challenges somewhat outside of its control -- like Google launching a Web browser, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) gaining market share, and the netbook craze that is taking to cheaper Linux-powered portables -- Microsoft is growing, for now.
The silver lining for potential investors is that Microsoft's share price has fallen much harder than its fundamentals. Did you ever think you would be buying the world's top software company for just 9 to 10 times forward earnings? As long as even the baby steps keep coming, shares of Microsoft may prove to be too compelling a value to pass up, even among the growing pool of cynics.
Other ways to spend time with Microsoft: