Microsoft reports STRONG third quarter earnings

“I’m pleased with our healthy financial results for the quarter,” Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein said on a conference call with analysts, investors, and journalists regarding the results.

Microsoft reported strong third-quarter sales and earnings, as it weathered slowing PC sales with strong performances from its Office and Xbox businesses.

Net income in the company’s fiscal third quarter climbed 31 percent from the year-ago period to $5.23 billion on sales of $16.43 billion, a 13 percent gain.

Earnings per share climbed 36 percent to 61 cents, a figure that includes a 5 cent a share benefit from a settlement with Internal Revenue Service over tax audits from 2004 to 2006.

Microsoft got a big bounce from the Entertainment & Devices Division, where sales grew 60 percent to $1.94 billion, and operating income climbed 50 percent to $225 million. Microsoft’s motion-sensing game controller, Kinect for Xbox 360, drove much of those sales.

Launched before Christmas, the device became the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in history.

The company also said it sold 2.7 million Xbox 360 consoles in the quarter, a 79 percent increase from the year-ago period.

Microsoft’s Server & Tools Division also continues to be a potent financial engine. Revenue in that unit grew 11 percent to $4.1 billion while operating income grew 12 percent to $1.42 billion. That division was buoyed by business adoption of Windows Server, SQL Server and System Center.

Microsoft’s Online Services Division, the home for its Bing search engine and other Web properties, continues to lose money, as losses grew 2 percent to $726 million.

Now this is interesting.

Microsoft also noted that it will shift from the tradition of holding its annual financial analysts meeting in Redmond, Wash., shortly after releasing fourth-quarter results.

Instead, Microsoft will hold the meeting on September 14 in Anaheim, Calif., during its Professional Developers Conference. PDC’s are benchmark moments for Microsoft, where the company lays out its vision for developers.

Microsoft will likely unveil details of Windows 8 at the conference.

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