Microsoft and Apple: A Tale of Two Earnings Report

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There was a a lot of news coming out Microsoft and Apple last week:

* On Monday, Apple released its stellar earnings report.

* On Monday, Microsoft opened up the SharePoint 2009 Conference in Las Vegas

* On Tuesday, Apple released its latest product line

* On Wednesday, Microsoft announced a deal with Twitter to expose Twitter information in Bing

* On Thursday, Microsoft released Windows 7.

* On Friday, Microsoft released their earnings report, which was shall we say, less than stellar (compared to Apple's).

And so it went in a week full of big news. Google got into it too, announcing its own deal with Twitter. It was enough to make your head spin, but surely one thing that stood out among all that news was how well Apple did in its earnings and how poorly Microsoft did in comparison.

Apple Scores a Record Quarter

As I wrote the other day in Win 7 Left in the Publicity Dust, Apple had a quarterly earnings report for the ages:

Not only did they do well, they did freaking incredible scoring their best quarter ever. In the middle of the biggest recession in 50 years, Apple generated a whopping $1.67B profit.

You don't need to be a financier to know that's doing really well and the profits resulted in earnings of $1.82 per share (according to numbers on Mac World). And here's some other tidbits:

Comparing those numbers to Apple’s year-ago figures, quarterly profit rose 46 percent, while earnings per share jumped 44 percent. Revenue increased 25 percent from the September 2008 quarter. At the end of the [quarter], the company had $34 billion of cash on hand.

That we are in the middle of a recession, only makes those numbers that much more impressive. Meanwhile, Microsoft's numbers came out today, and the results: not so good.

Microsoft's Number Are a Different Story

When the good news is that you beat analysts expectations by not having a quarter as *bad* as analysts thought, it's not such a great thing. And Microsoft's numbers were mediocre at best. Mary Jo Foley reports on her Ziff-David blog:

For the quarter, which ended on September 30, Microsoft’s net income was down 18 percent, to $3.57 billion, and revenues down 14 percent, to $12.92 billion — both compared to the first quarter earnings for fiscal 2009.

Foley said the losses were due mostly to Microsoft's biggest earners, Windows and Office, taking a big hit. To be fair, it should be interesting to see if there is a turn-around next quarter with the holiday shopping season and the release of Windows 7 and the new Zune along with more time for Bing to bake. There had better be or Microsoft could be starting to show signs of faltering a bit.

Hard Not To Compare

These two companies battle each other and when one is doing so much better than the other, it's hard not to see the contrast and point it out. It's clear at this point, that Apple is doing great at the high end. Its computers and laptops are selling well and at a high profit margin. The iPhone market continues to grow.

Microsoft has yet to find a new product that can match the success of products rolled out by Apple this decade, still living off its Windows and Office profits. But if that continues to diminish, how will Microsoft continue to maintain its profits in the years to come? It's not an easy question to answer and one that the powers that be in Redmond are very likely puzzling over even as we speak, hoping I'm sure, that their recent moves will result in their own stellar earnings reports in the future.