Microsoft, IBM and Sun post earnings round-up

Microsoft posted revenue of $8.5bn (£5.3bn) for the quarter ending 31 December, a 10% increase over revenue of $7.7bn for the...

Microsoft posted revenue of $8.5bn (£5.3bn) for the quarter ending 31 December, a 10% increase over revenue of $7.7bn for the same period a year ago.

Microsoft reported operating income for the quarter of $3.3bn (£2bn), including a $210m charge related to resolving state antitrust and unfair competition class-action lawsuits that is still pending.

Net income for the quarter was $2.6bn (£1.6bn), including a $282m (£174m) after-tax charge for investment impairments and a $126m (£78m) one-time tax benefit related to a favourable tax court ruling. Last year the company had net income of $2.28bn.

"The company delivered solid results in every business, despite a challenging global economic environment," said John Connors, chief financial officer at Microsoft.

"During the quarter, we also launched a broad range of products and services, including MSN 8, Tablet PC, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Xbox Live and [the] Windows Powered Smartphone.

"While we are very optimistic about the future of the technology sector, we do not expect to see a significant upturn in global IT spending in the short term.".

Revenue from server platforms grew 12% in the second quarter, driven by demand for sever products, including Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

Despite sluggish IT spending, Microsoft SQL Server 2000 posted growth of more 40%, which was driven by strong demand for SQL Server Enterprise Edition among companies deploying mission-critical applications.

IBM reported revenue of $23.7bn (£14.7bn) compared with the fourth quarter of 2001, when IBM posted revenue of $22.1bn.

"In one of the most challenging years in business, we delivered a solid quarter and finished the year strong," said Samuel Palmisano, IBM chairman and chief executive officer.

"We continued to gain share in our core businesses and managed our company very well in a tough environment. Our e-business on demand strategy is resonating as more customers look to IBM to improve productivity and drive competitive advantage.

"In 2002, our strong cashflow gave us the flexibility to invest in future growth and shareholder value," he said. "We strengthened our software portfolio through a number of important acquisitions, the latest in December when we announced the agreement to acquire Rational Software."

Revenue from IBM's Global Services unit, including maintenance, grew 17% in the fourth quarter to $10.6bn (£6.6bn). Global Services revenue, excluding maintenance, increased 19%.

Hardware revenue increased 1% to $8.1bn (£5bn) from the same quarter in 2001. The company noted strong demand for its high-end xSeries Intel-based servers, with revenue from pSeries Unix- based servers flat, and revenue from IBM's iSeries and zSeries servers down.

Sun Microsystems reported a net loss of $2.3bn (£1.4bn) for its second finacial quarter. That included $2bn (£1.2bn) in charges, mostly because of investment losses. Those figures compared with a net loss of $431m for the same period a year ago.

Revenue for the quarter was $2.9bn (£1.8bn) down from the $3.1bn in revenue posted last year.

Net income for the quarter was $10m (£6.2m), compared with a $99m net loss, for the second quarter of 2002.

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