Microsoft Corp. profit more than doubled in the fiscal first quarter as the biggest software firm forced large customers to accept unpopular and more costly multiyear licensing deals or risk paying even more for the future products.
The Redmond, Wash., maker of Windows computer operating systems, Office productivity software and programs to run servers, e-mail and databases said earnings rose to $2.73 billion, or 50 cents a share, from $1.28 billion, or 23 cents, a year earlier. Sales jumped 26% to a record $7.75 billion.
Without a $291-million charge for impaired investments, the company would have reported earnings of 55 cents a share in the three months ended Sept. 30, well above the company's earlier prediction of 42 or 43 cents.
"This truly was an exceptional quarter," said Microsoft Chief Financial Officer John Connors. "We saw broader customer adoption of our licensing programs than we anticipated."
Microsoft's stock rose 36 cents to $50.77 in regular Nasdaq trading, then shot up to $53.14 in after-hours trading after the earnings report. The stock has held more of its value than other technology shares as Microsoft leverages its Windows monopoly in new areas.
Analysts said Microsoft was benefiting from unparalleled clout, execution and comparatively inexpensive offerings as it gets a bigger share of companies' declining technology spending.
"In about the worst information technology environment in memory, Microsoft has just powered right through -- and they're only getting stronger," said Banc of America Securities analyst Robert Austrian.
Microsoft slightly raised the company's projections for the rest of the fiscal year. It now expects full-year revenue of $32.2 billion to $32.6 billion and earnings per share of between $1.89 and $1.95.
Microsoft executives cautioned that new licensing deals may decline in the next two quarters.