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Microsoft Suffers First-Ever Loss on Write-down

Revenue exceeds expectations as launch of new Windows version approaches.

Microsoft Corp. (IW 500/15) on Thursday posted a loss of $492 million in the past quarter, the first ever for the software giant, as results were hit by a previously announced write-off.

The Redmond, Washington-based firm had announced earlier this month it would take a $6.2 billion write-down to reflect the slump in value of its online services division. The charge required by accounting rules does not affect the company's cash position.

Taking out one-time charges, Microsoft showed a profit of 73 cents a share, well ahead of Wall Street expectations of 62 cents.

Revenue also beat expectations, rising 4% to $18 billion in the quarter to June 30. For the full year, revenues were up 5% at $73.7 billion.

"We delivered record fourth quarter and annual revenue, and we're fast approaching the most exciting launch season in Microsoft history," said Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft.

The company is preparing to release a new version of its leading Windows operating system and a new tablet computer while making an aggressive move into smartphones.

"The combination of solid revenue growth and rigorous cost discipline drove double-digit operating income growth for the quarter, adjusting for the goodwill impairment and deferred revenue," said Peter Klein, chief financial officer.

"We are focusing our resources in strategic areas that will deliver shareholder value and long-term growth opportunities."

aQuantive Acquisition Hurts

The loss stemmed from a charge reflecting a write-down related to the 2007 acquisition of aQuantive, a digital advertising firm aimed at helping Microsoft compete against Google and others.

Microsoft announced the deal in August 2007 in a move aimed at seizing market share from rivals Yahoo! and Google in the lucrative market that tailors advertising to Internet search results.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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