PC Sales Help Microsoft Deliver Strong Earnings

Critics say Microsoft is staid and lacks vision, but the company keeps churning out sizable profits. The quarterly numbers released late Thursday were driven by strong corporate sales of PCs.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host: Microsoft remains the undisputed king of software. Yesterday, the company reported strong quarterly sales - more $17 billion - and strong profits. NPR's Wendy Kaufman has more.

WENDY KAUFMAN: Critics say Microsoft is staid and lacks vision. Indeed, its stock price has traded within a very narrow range for just about all of the past decade. Still, the company continues to churn out profits and dividends quarter after quarter. For the latest period, the company's net income was up six percent over the same period last year. Quarterly profits were $5.7 billion, or 68 cents a share.

ROB HELM: The theme song is "Rawhide": They kept them doggies rolling.

KAUFMAN: That's Rob Helm, an analyst with the independent firm Directions on Microsoft. He says companies are in the middle of a wave of PC buying.

HELM: Businesses are putting in Windows 7 and getting rid of all those machines running Windows XP. And so between now and 2014, there will still be a lot of business PC sales.

KAUFMAN: So far, those corporate sales have been strong enough to offset shrinking demand for PCs by U.S. consumers. Those consumers are increasingly turning to tablets and other mobile devices. And as more businesses shift to tablets, the pressure on Microsoft will grow. So far, at least, the company hasn't had much success making the transition from PCs to mobile computing. Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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