The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which Eric Bleeker, senior technology editor, discusses topics around the investing world.
In this edition, Eric continues his review of how major tech companies performed in 2011. Looking at Microsoft, Eric is impressed with gains in the company's entertainment and server divisions. However, challenges facing the company seem to outweigh opportunities. While investors latch onto Microsoft's lack of success in mobile, Eric's more concerned with other areas. Specifically, he wonders how Microsoft will keep up with big-tech peers such as Intel as PC growth moves to emerging markets, where piracy decimates Microsoft's ability to profit along with its hardware-centric peers.
Still, heading out of 2011, the company continues trading at a P/E that's attractive and is committed to paying back shareholders through its continuing growth of its dividend payout. For Microsoft, the opportunity isn't necessarily huge growth in the years ahead; it's that the company trades cheaply and is increasingly receptive to returning capital back to shareholders.