Microsoft Earnings Narrowly Beat Street Forecast

Software giant Microsoft reported quarterly earnings that were a penny higher than Wall Street's forecasts and revenue that was just shy of what analysts had expected on Thursday despite a lift from its latest version of Windows.

After the earnings announcement, the company's shares slipped in after-hours trading. (Click here to get the latest quotes for Microsoft.)

Microsoft earned $6.4 billion, or 76 cents per share, during its fiscal second quarter. That was down from $6.6 billion, or 78 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue increased 3 percent to $21.46 billion from $20.89 billion a year ago.

In the report, Microsoft said its server and tools business revenue grew 9 percent while its business division revenue fell 10 percent from the prior-year period.

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of 75 cents a share on $21.53 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Amid an increasingly competitive landscape, Microsoft has pinned its hopes for personal computer sales on the launch of its new Windows 8 system.

The results announced Thursday are the first to include Windows 8. The program is a dramatic overhaul of the Microsoft operating system that powers most PCs. Windows 8 came out Oct. 26 with slightly more than two months left in Microsoft's fiscal second quarter.

Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp.

Although the Windows 8 sales haven't been as impressive as investors hoped, revenue in Microsoft's Windows division climbed 24 percent from the previous year.

Microsoft said it had licensed more than 60 million copies of Windows 8. That puts the redesigned system on the same early sales trajectory as its predecessor, Windows 7, after it came out in 2009.

Investors have already signaled their disappointment with Windows 8 and Surface. The Redmond, Wash., company's stock is hovering around the same price as when those products were released three months ago, while the overall market has climbed higher.

So far, tech earnings results have been mixed. On Tuesday, IBM earnings and revenue exceeded Wall Street's expectations while Apple fell short of revenue forecasts on Wednesday, sending the already bruised stock even lower in trading on Thursday.