Microsoft earnings soar


Published: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 8:55 p.m.

SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. said Thursday its fiscal second-quarter profit topped analysts' expectations and climbed 79 percent, buoyed by rising sales of Windows-based personal computers.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, profit increased to $4.71 billion, or 50 cents per share, from $2.63 billion, or 26 cents per share last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had forecast a profit of 46 cents per share.

Revenue rose 31 percent to $16.37 billion from $12.5 billion in the year-ago quarter, ahead of the analysts' prediction of $15.95 billion in sales.

"It looks like a very nice report," said Sarah Friar, an analyst for Goldman Sachs, in an interview. She pointed to Microsoft's improved profitability, due to better-than-expected results in two high-margin areas, software for businesses and Xbox 360s.

AT&T earns $3.1B in 4Q

SAN ANTONIO - AT&T Inc. earned $3.1 billion in the fourth quarter as its wireless and broadband businesses did well, a trend the nation's largest telecommunications company said would help it keep growing even in a sputtering economy.

AT&T's net income for the quarter came to 51 cents per share, it said Thursday. During the same period in 2006, the company earned $1.9 billion, or 50 cents per share. The results that quarter did not include the earnings of BellSouth because AT&T's takeover wasn't completed until the final days of the period.

Revenue in the most recent quarter nearly doubled to $30.35 billion from $15.9 billion, mostly due to the takeover of BellSouth.

Excluding the effects of auisitions, the company would have earned 71 cents per share during the fourth quarter, in line with the expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

The company earned $11.95 billion in 2007, amounting to $1.95 per share. In the previous year, the company earned $7.36 billion, or $1.89 per share.

Lennar posts $1.25B loss

MIAMI - Lennar Corp. reported a $1.25 billion fourth-quarter loss Thursday - the biggest in its history - as the prolonged housing slump drove prices lower and the builder took hefty charges to write down land values.

One of the nation's largest homebuilders, Lennar also reported a $1.9 billion loss for all of 2007, a dreadful year for the entire housing sector.

With few signs of market improvement, the Miami-based company said it was aggressively trying to generate cash and lower inventory while taking heavy impairment charges.

Lennar said quarterly losses ballooned to $7.92 per share, from $195.6 million, or $1.24 per share, a year ago. Previously, Lennar's 2007 third-quarter loss of $513.9 million was the largest reported in the Miami-based company's 53-year history.

Revenue tumbled 49 percent to $2.18 billion from $4.27 billion in the 2006 period, as home deliveries fell 50 percent to 7,044 homes, and new orders slid 50 percent to 4,761 homes.

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