BARCLAYS Capital cut its price target on Microsoft Inc’s stock after the world’s largest software company reported a greater-than-expected dip in its quarterly profit.
However, most brokerages maintained their ratings and price targets on the stock ahead of next week’s Windows 8 launch, described by Credit Agricole Securities as the most comprehensive product refresh cycle in Microsoft’s history.
Microsoft reported a 22 percent drop in profit on Thursday due to a fall in sales of computers running the Windows operating system in a weak PC market.
First-quarter sales fell 8 percent to $16.01 billion and some revenue was deferred ahead of upcoming releases of its core Windows and Office products.
Shares of the company, which closed at $29.49 on Thursday on the Nasdaq, were set to open 2 percent lower on Friday.
While the weakness in the Windows business was expected, the poor showing by the Office business and the server and tools division was a surprise, Barclays analyst Raimo Lenschow.
Lenschow lowered his price target on the stock to $34 from $36, but maintained his “equal weight” rating.
“... We still prefer to wait on the sidelines until after the Windows 8 launch next week,” he said in a note.
Microsoft is betting on the release of the touch-friendly Windows 8, which will also run on tablets, to break its heavy reliance on PC sales.
PC sales are expected to fall this year for the first time since 2001, according to research firm IHS, due to the weak economy and the inability of the latest crop of lightweight laptops to compete with Apple Inc’s iPad.
Microsoft needs to be successful in tablets to mitigate structural concerns of eroding market share and margin in its core Windows and Office businesses, Lenschow added.
Lenschow is rated four stars for the accuracy of his estimates on Microsoft’s earnings, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine.
Analysts at Credit Agricole said they were looking beyond the first-quarter results and expected momentum to build through financial year 2013.
Jefferies analyst Ross MacMillan said he was “yet to be convinced on Windows 8” and maintained his “hold” rating on the stock.
While Microsoft’s Surface tablet, expected to go on sale on October 26, holds much promise, it may need some time to work out the issues that have historically characterised new Microsoft offerings, JP Morgan analyst John DiFucci said.
“We are not assuming much impact of Surface to our model at this time other than what is implied as cannibalism of our current Windows PC expectations,” DiFucci said.