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Friday, October 26, 2007

Halo boost Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. on Thursday said earnings for the fiscal first quarter jumped 23% amid strong revenue growth, solidly beating the forecasts of Wall Street analysts. ......profit rose 23 percent compared with last year, bolstered by brisk sales of the new "Halo 3" video game, Windows and Office.

The better-than-expected results pushed it stock up sharply in after-hours trading.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the software maker's profit climbed to $4.29 billion, or 45 cents a share, from $3.48 billion, or 35 cents a share, during the same period last year.

The results topped Wall Street's expectations. Analysts, on average, had forecast a profit of 39 cents a share, according to a Thomson Financial poll.

Revenue grew 27 percent to $13.76 billion from $10.81 billion in the year-ago quarter. Analysts were looking for $12.57 billion in sales.

The business unit responsible for the Windows Vista operating system contributed $4.14 billion in revenue, while the unit that makes the Office 2007 software suite brought in $4.11 billion.

Sales of the "Halo 3" video game and the Xbox 360 console that Halo is played on pushed the company's entertainment and devices division to a profit of $165 million in the quarter.

The division responsible for online advertising posted a loss of $264 million.

Microsoft increased its guidance for the fiscal year, saying it expected to earn $1.78 to $1.81 a share on revenue of $58.8 billion to $59.7 billion. Earlier, the company predicted it would earn $1.69 to $1.73 a share on $56.8 billion to $57.8 billion in sales.

Shares of Microsoft gained 74 cents, or 2.4 percent, on Thursday before the earnings announcement to close at $31.99. In early after-hours trading, the stock was up $2.86, or 8.9 percent, to $34.85

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