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UPDATE 1-Microsoft profit up on strong commercial sales, no word on CEO

Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 | 4:32 PM ET

SEATTLE, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp said on Thursday fiscal second-quarter profit rose 3 percent, as strong sales of its Office software to businesses offset another weak quarter for its flagship Windows system, which is suffering as consumers increasingly favor tablets over personal computers.

The world's largest software company reported a profit of $6.56 billion, or 78 cents per share, compared with $6.38 billion, or 76 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

That easily beat Wall Street's average estimate of 68 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Microsoft shares jumped almost 4 percent in after hours trading.

Sales rose 14 percent to $24.5 billion, helped by higher sales of Office, its Xbox game console and new Surface tablets, also beating Wall Street's forecast of $23.7 billion.

Over the last few months analysts slightly raised revenue estimates, but reduced them for net income.

Microsoft did not say anything about its five-month search for a new chief executive to replace the retiring Steve Ballmer, which has taken longer than most investors expected.

Its board is still searching for a leader to unify the sprawling technology giant and catapult it into competitive positions in the mobile and tablet markets dominated by Apple Inc and Google Inc.

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