Saturday, September 20, 2008

Microsoft (MSFT) Analysis

Microsoft is a technology company based in the US. The company is trading for a P/E of 13.46, Price/Cash flow of 11.03 and yield of 1.75%. The P/E ratio is historically the cheapest it has been.

Let us look at some numbers under the hood to see how the businesses are doing and what the prospects look like.

From the 10-K, the annual revenue for FY08 was 60.8 billion with operating income of 22.48 billion before taxes.

Fiscal year 2008 compared with fiscal year 2007

Revenue growth was driven primarily by increased licensing of the 2007 Microsoft Office system, increased Xbox 360 platform sales, increased revenue associated with Windows Server and SQL Server, and increased licensing of Windows Vista. Foreign currency exchange rates accounted for a $1.6 billion or three percentage point increase in revenue during the year.

Operating income increased primarily reflecting increased revenue, partially offset by increased headcount-related expenses, increased costs for legal settlements and legal contingencies, and increased cost of revenue. Headcount-related expenses increased 12%, reflecting an increase in headcount during the year. We incurred $1.8 billion of legal charges during the year primarily related to the European Commission fine of $1.4 billion (899 million) as compared with $511 million of legal charges during the prior year. Cost of revenue increased $905 million or 8%, reflecting increased data center and equipment costs, online content expenses, and increased costs associated with the growth in our consulting services, partially offset by decreased Xbox 360 costs. The decreased Xbox 360 costs reflect the $1.1 billion charge in fiscal year 2007 related to the expansion of our Xbox 360 warranty coverage as discussed below, partially offset by increased Xbox 360 product costs reflecting growth in unit console sales.

The diluted earnings per share growth was impacted by the $1.1 billion Xbox 360 charge in fiscal year 2007 and current year share repurchases. 

Windows client had revenues of 16.8 billion with 13 billion in income. The server and tools division had revenues of 13.1 billion and operating income of 4.59 billion. The Microsoft business division had revenues of 18.9 billion and operating income of 12.4 billion. 

The remaining divisions and corporate level activity contributed to about 8 billion in losses or impairment. The other divisions include Online Services, Entertainment & Devices and Corporate Level Activity. 

 Overall, 59% of Microsoft revenues came from the US and the remaining from the rest of the world.

 Microsoft is also in a buying frenzy spending about $12 billion in FY08 in buying companies that are publicly or privately held. 

The interesting aspect of Microsoft's business is the unending investments in the search & ad space that is not yielding any fruit. More light was spilled on this in the yearly conference call.

QUESTION: Thank you. I just have some questions on the timeline here, sort of when Yahoo! collapsed. On May 3rd you disclosed your offer price of $33, on May 6th there was a quote from one of Yahoo!'s largest shareholders saying he was extremely disappointed with them. May 13th Icahn had bought a block of share. May 15th he had his board slate nominated, and my guess is by May 16th all of Yahoo!'s largest shareholders had told them that they would consider voting for the Icahn slate, and would be willing to sell for $33 a share. So that's just 13 days. It doesn't seem plausible that the asset depreciated that much in those 13 days. What really happened that made you decide not to pursue it at that point?

STEVE BALLMER: I'm glad you have the timeline, I lived it, but I don't have it sort of noted here in quite that detail. But we had a date we were going to make a decision. We came fully prepared to work. We didn't converge. There was no further I don't know, May 15th, 17th, some place in the teens, there was no it was over. The discussions stopped. Somebody wanted to sell us the business on May 15th, 17th, whatever some day was, it was unknown to me. We had a discussion. We had a discussion with the CEO of the company. We couldn't reach a deal. You move on.

The fact of the matter is, and Chris went through all of the rationale, I think, actually much more eloquently, in fact, than I did earlier in the day, and certainly much more crisply. You go through all of it, the market has changed, lots of things have changed. But we had a deadline based upon kind of what we wanted to accomplish, and time to market, and the deadline passed. And then we started looking at additional alternatives, and I know by Memorial Day we were having some discussions about a search deal, which was fine, and those, too, didn't work out. But by that time, we were really on to the search field.

CHRIS LIDDELL: I don't want to keep rewriting history, and the he said/she said sort of discussion that we've had way too much of. But when we launched the bid, we launched it with an anticipation that we would get serious engagement very quickly, and a decision very quickly. We -and if you had told me that May was going to be that point, I would have said, that's way too long. I think we made it very clear, right through the early stage of the acquisition, that something like March would have been great. The end of April suddenly became a drop-dead date. And at some point is the tipping point in all of these where it no longer makes sense to engage on the principle thing. I think we were clear right the way along.

STEVE BALLMER: It is a little weird. You could say Chris is a little bit crisper about these things than I am. But, man, we had an offer out that was 100 percent premium on the operating business of the company, and there wasn't really even a serious price negotiation until the beginning of May, which is three months later. Okay, that's just the way these things work. And yet, we had priced -you could say, why did you come in with an offer that was 100 percent premium on the operating business, but taking out the Asian assets. And the answer was, so we could get it done quickly. Chris still relatively new to tech, he said, are you kidding? No other business in the world would have this kind of patience. And yet, I think we've dealt a little bit with founders, and we wanted to give the thing some time. But at some point, as Chris said, you move on.

On the question of investing in search and related businesses:

I mean, I talked about, I think, tried to give you some characterization of what I thought that ante was. I talked a little bit about that. I talked about the potential of investing something like 5 to 10 percent of operating income for a period of time in order to go after it. It kind of gives you a little bit of a feel. We were between 5 and 10 percent this year. You could say it doesn't give you a precise feel. I'm never precise about things that are forward looking, because it doesn't seem to be all that useful, unless we're willing to be super-precise, and that's what we call guidance.

On opex cost:

Chris said maybe it made sense for me to explain just a little bit how we think about FY '09, and where we're spending money. We announced that our OPEX would be up something about $4 billion in FY '09 versus FY '08. I'm not an expert, but I bet if you back out growth in operating expenses at stores in Wal-Mart, that ranks right up there as one of the largest increases in operating expense year over year of any company in two sequential years. So let me give you a little context.

Microsoft's search business investing and the distress in the financial industry is likely to taper growth in its core businesses this year. While the share buy backs should help the earnings, that alone might not be enough. 

Even though Microsoft is historically cheap, it still doesnt look like a bargain at these prices. A company like Walmart seems to offer more upside than Microsoft at the moment.

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