Microsoft books $8.4bn write-down


Microsoft booked an $8.4 billion charge in the fourth quarter, swallowing a bitter pill by writing off the Nokia phone business it bought just over a year ago. It narrowly beat analysts’ depressed expectations for a quarter that also saw a steep decline in personal computer sales even as it prepares to launch its latest operating system, Windows 10.

The Redmond, Washington-based software giant posted a net loss of $3.20 billion, or 40 cents per share, reversing a profit of $4.61 billion, or 55 cents per share, a year ago.

Adjusted to exclude the charges, the company posted a quarterly profit of 62 cents per share, beating the average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research of 31 cents per share.

The write-down was expected after CEO Satya Nadella announced 7,800 job cuts two weeks ago. The company will continue to make phones on a smaller scale, paring down its lower-cost offerings.

Nadella told analysts on a conference call he’d like Windows phones to be more targeted at high-end businesses and their employees, much like its Surface tablet, which saw upbeat sales. “We have a formula there that I would like to apply more broadly,” Nadella said.

The difficult quarter comes ahead of the launch of Windows 10 on July 29, a free upgrade for users of Windows 7 or 8 for the next year. The company hopes that better integrating its store into the revamped start button and powering more internet searches through Bing will compensate for the temporary dip in Windows revenue.

Microsoft plans for Windows 10 to be its last version of Windows before transitioning the business to a fee-for-service model, although how that will work is unclear.

The firm gave an outlook for revenue of $20.7 billion to $21.3 billion for the first fiscal quarter through September that was below the $22.6 billion expected by analysts polled by FactSet.