Operating systems behemoth Microsoft
For the fourth quarter, Microsoft saw revenues jump 9% to $10.16 billion. Operating income declined 4.5% to $2.99 billion. The culprit was $756 million in legal charges in the battle against trust issues. On a diluted basis, Microsoft earned $3.7 billion ($0.34 per share) versus $2.69 billion ($0.25 per share) in last year's fourth quarter.
For the entire fiscal year, Microsoft reported an 8% increase in revenue to $39.79 billion. Operating income increased 61% to $14.56 billion. Diluted net income came in at $12.25 billion ($1.12 per share) compared with last fiscal year's take of $8.17 billion ($0.75 per share).
Like it or not, investors must keep those antitrust considerations in mind because the expenses are significant. In fiscal 2005, legal charges were $0.13 per share, compared with $0.17 in 2004.
Despite the legal costs, the results show that Microsoft still has a strong earnings engine that continues to bring in cash, allowing it to branch off in other areas to search for growth opportunities. (Plus, PC sales are pretty healthy.)
In fact, one of Microsoft's most promising segments is Home and Entertainment, which includes the Xbox franchise. Total sales for this segment in fiscal 2005 jumped 12.7% to $3.24 billion, and the operating loss was cut by 68% to $391 million. Marketing costs will surely rise when Xbox 360 debuts in the fall, but Fools can find comfort in knowing that console sales are strong and that Xbox Live membership recently doubled to a couple of million users.
All of this bodes well for Microsoft as an income player, something Motley FoolIncome Investor newsletter analyst Mathew Emmert wrote about recently. The company has a proven history of insinuating itself into the information-technology culture. It has made its way to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It has just begun its life as a dividend player -- it doubled its annual dividend to $0.32 -- and I'd be willing to wager that many more lush dividend increases are waiting down the line. (The company increased free cash flow this fiscal year 16.8% to $15.79 billion.)
Those who invest today and hold for the long term, reinvesting dividends along the way, should have a no-brainer proposition on their hands. Microsoft is fundamentally sound with no debt issues, it's bought back more stock than it printed (in fiscal 2005, $8.06 billion of stock was repurchased while $3.11 billion was issued), it has Longhorn to look forward to, and it's been stuck in a range for a while, building a base of investors.
The price probably isn't going to rocket to the heavens anytime soon, but why not sit back and collect some righteous payouts while waiting for that day to come?
More on Mr. Softy:
- Will Google Bury Microsoft?
- Microsoft's Next Target
- Microsoft's Microsearch
- Have a look at competitor Apple Computer's
- Share your thoughts about Microsoft at the company's discussion board.