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Wall Street puzzled by Microsoft's performance

Be careful who you compare yourself to

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It may have been Microsoft's show but both Google and Yahoo! made their presence felt during the company's first quarter earnings call Thursday.

Wall St analysts, clearly wowed by Google's ballooning business model, quizzed Microsoft over why MSN's revenue is projected to be flat or grow by two per cent this year, when Google and Yahoo! have seen growth of between sixteen and six percent.

The projection came as Microsoft announced MSN saw revenue growth of less than one per cent to $564m for the three months to September 30 while income grew close to 4 per cent to $83m.

"Are you losing [market] share or is pricing weaker," one puzzled analyst asked chief financial officer Chris Liddel.

"Its not a volume issue," Liddel said. "Our market share remains where it was. It's a monetization issue. That's something we are going to have to address in future." In short, Microsoft is not making as much money as Google on ads.

Comparisons come as Microsoft has spent the best part of the last quarter campaigning to be seen as a viable online search and content player with its eye on the future. Chief executive Steve Ballmer and chief software architect Bill Gates have been busy telling those who'd listen during the first quarter that they plan to, politely, "win on the web" or, more candidly, "trounce" and "fucking kill" Google.

Overall, Microsoft's first-quarter income grow 24.6 per cent to $3.1bn while revenue grew 6.1 per cent to $9.74bn. Earnings per diluted share increased six cents to $0.29. The full breakdown of Microsoft's results can be found here. ®

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