The continuing antitrust woes at Microsoft
Yesterday, the firm announced that it will take a $714 million charge against earnings for the just-completed third quarter in order to account for its recent settlement with Gateway
Last year's whooptydoo with the EU resulted in a $605 million charge. And the slew of pending and settled state class-action suits have forced Microsoft to book a $1.04 billion liability. Need more? In the first quarter of this year, $536 million went to Novell
That's $3.4 billion over the past year or so, if I'm not so dizzy that I screwed up the math. That would be enough to sink most companies, but at Microsoft, it's merely a drop in the bucket. The balance sheets from the last 10Q show $34.5 billion in cash and short-term investments and the firm had already booked more than $7 billion in free cash flow in the first half of the fiscal year.
That may not be great news to all shareholders, but it's something worth considering if you're sitting on the fence, especially now that shares are flirting with a two-year low. By price-to-earnings and price-to-cash flow, Microsoft has rarely been cheaper -- certainly not in the past seven years. And though net margins aren't as frothy as during the golden years -- they reached 40% in 2000 -- they have improved significantly off the sub-20% mark reached in the dark days of 2002.
With a respectable dividend and cash flow to spare, now may be as good a time as any to add the tech gorilla -- bugs and all -- to your portfolio.
For related Foolishness:
- Catch an exciting installment in the war with Europe.
- For Microsoft, sometimes less is more.
- Sometimes, ya gotta wonder if Redmond doesn't have too many irons in the fire.
Seth Jayson finds a good flea shampoo to work wonders on mite infestations. At the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.