Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fun Facts about Microsoft Co.

Why would anyone bother reading shareholder reports? They're dry, long-winded, and functionally outdated by the time of arrival, so there's no way to profit from the information. Reasons for reading would have to include boredom, duress, or idle curiosity. It was the latter which led me to the Microsoft Annual Report for 2011. A few interesting facts pulled from that document:
  • Microsoft is divided into five segments. The Windows & Windows Live Division gets 75% of its revenue from selling Windows to computer manufacturers, to be pre-installed for end users. The remaining 25% comes from sale of miscellaneous hardware products and online advertising on Windows Live. 
  • In the Windows Division, most growth over the last year was business sales (+11%) while consumer purchases went down (-1%). A substantial part of the drop in consumer PC sales was from netbooks (-32%).
  • Employee severance expenses were $59 million in 2010 and $330 million in 2009. Why the huge change? Microsoft: "In January 2009, we announced and implemented a resource management program to reduce discretionary operating expenses, employee headcount, and capital expenditures."
  • Research and Development costs took up 15% of Microsoft's revenue, or $9.0 billion, in 2011. That investment is well-protected -- by 26,000 U.S. and international patents, and another 36,000 pending.
  • Kinect for Xbox 360 is the fastest-selling consumer electronics device; confirmed by Guinness World Records
  • If you'd bought $100 of Microsoft stock in June 2006, six years later it would be worth $122.71 (compare to $115.61 for the S&P Index, or $157.48 for the Nasdaq Computer Index). 

What, if anything, does this say about the corporation and its future? Microsoft's product focus is split between entertainment/gaming and business services, while the company's prior breadwinner - bundling software with new PCs - is taking a back seat. As stated in a note from their CEO, Steven Ballmer: "increasingly, we will view ourselves as a devices and services company." It sounds closer to Mattel than the Evil Empire. Regardless, Microsoft's diverse selection of both patents and products provides a foothold to compete against intimidating rivals like Google, Apple, and Salesforce.com.

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