Kara Swisher

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Microsoft Second-Quarter Earnings Call: Put on a Happy Face?

It was back to normal for Microsoft, at least if you looked at its stellar results in the second quarter, which the software giant reported earlier today.

BoomTown liveblogged the company’s call with Wall Street analysts, which began at 2:30 pm PT today.

Microsoft (MSFT) has been through the financial wringer over the last year, announcing the first mass layoffs in the its 35-year history a year ago.

But after the markets closed today, Microsoft said its earnings for its fiscal second quarter handily beat expectations.

Net income for the period rose to $6.66 billion, or 74 cents a share, from $4.17 billion, or 47 cents a share in the same period last year. Meanwhile, revenue rose 14 percent to $19.02 billion.

Analysts had been expecting earnings of 59 cents a share, and $17.9 billion in revenue.

It’s hard to tell if Microsoft–which has been one of the grumpier tech companies publicly, due to its weaker results over the last year–would start to put on a happy face or not.

2:31 pm: Welcome to new CFO, Peter Klein (pictured here) for his first earnings call. He replaced Chris Liddell, whose kiwi-cute New Zealand accent will be missed.

Klein gave a big hello, which was made happier by the news he got to deliver. “We reported record revenue and record profits,” he said.

Thank you, consumers!

But Klein also noted that Microsoft did “not see return of enterprise spending growth,” which was the big bummer.

No thank you, business folks!

But working the cost side made that all okay, for now at least.

Then the call was turned over to investor relations dude, Bill Koefoed, who also noted that the results were “phenomenal.”

Koefoed went through the numbers reported, which were all in the press release.

2:47 pm: Klein came back, discussing the outlook, which is not as glum as any of the Microsoft quarterly calls over the last year.

Then it was onto questions.

The first was on what will drive sales going forward, besides the success of WIndows 7 operating system software.

Microsoft’s future results would depend on and be “in line with PC” business, said Klein.

What about costs–will Microsoft keep the screws on?

We’ll see!

Next question: More details on enterprise?

We’re working on it! “As the enterprise [business] picks up…we are very well positioned,” said Klein.

More enterprise questions. “We have a great product pipeline,” he said, but we can’t predict what will happen.

2:57 pm: How’s the shrink-wrapped retail business going?


I became numbed into a stupor by the dullness of the next several questions, all internal chair-moving queries and repetition of previous questions.

Finally, one about exactly what Microsoft might be increasing spending on!

Well, the still-unapproved search and online advertising partnership with Yahoo (YHOO), for one, said Klein.

Back to more dull ones, until one on when the MicroHoo deal will be approved by federal regulators and how Bing is going to keep growing market share, which it has been doing admirably.

Klein said nothing on either, but very politely.

Another sleep-inducing question and then one on Microsoft’s giant pile of cash and whether the compay would hand it back to shareholders.

Klein gave another nonanswer.

The last question was about the flat performance from the gaming unit.

Well, there is the upcoming Project Natal, said Klein, to look forward to. But–keeping up his newly hatched CFO equanimity–no news to report here either.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google