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MS shares drop as analysts squabble over ‘shortfall’

No consensus over consensus...

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Analysts squabbled yesterday over a report that sent Microsoft shares down 2.3 per cent. Michael Murphy, editor of the California Technology Stock Letter, said that Microsoft's Q4 revenues, due out on Tuesday, would miss Wall Street's consensus estimate of $6.125 by about $300 million.

But there seems to be no consensus on the consensus. Murphy's start figure is higher than some rival analysts are pitching, and taking that $300 million away from it neatly puts the number down to their estimates, around $5.7-5.8 billion. That also tallies with Microsoft's own predictions last quarter. The company said it expected to gain about $100 million on its Q3, which would make its expected number $5.76 billion.

Going for the lower estimate of course improves the chances of Microsoft 'beating the street', which both Microsoft and the analysts like.

Murphy may however have created a certain Brechtian distance between himself and his clients, and the rest of the market. Last week he said they should get out of everything, which we suppose puts him in his quiet period. What do you do with a newsletter under these circumstances? Just send a sheet out every week that just says 'don't buy anything yet'? ®

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