Microsoft’s Stock Hit With Its Biggest Single Day Drop In Two Years

Steve Ballmer

Microsoft’s stock price is suffering its biggest one-day fall since 2009 in the wake of yesterday’s earnings report.

At one point the stock was down more than 4%, its biggest drop since July 2009, when the company reported disappointing earnings for the fourth quarter of its 2009 fiscal year. By the end of the day it had recovered a bit, and was down a little less than 3%.

Microsoft’s revenue and earnings actually beat consensus yesterday, although earnings were aided by a one-time tax benefit.

But investors expected that the Windows business would buck falling PC sales as Intel did last week. Instead, Windows revenue dropped 4%

Consumer PC sales were particularly weak: down 8%, Microsoft said on its earnings call.

In a call with SAI yesterday, Microsoft explained that Intel’s results were helped by the fact that it moved netbooks into a different segment, and by a price increase and inventory fluctuations related to the introduction of its new Sandy Bridge chipset. Microsoft didn’t get these benefits, and was really hurt by a 40% drop in netbook sales.

Presumably, many of those former netbook buyers are now buying iPads instead.

Investors might also be concerned about the approaching anniversary of Office 2010’s release. Microsoft’s Business Division — which includes Office and some business servers like Exchange (email) and SharePoint (collaboration) — has been the main driver of growth for the last three quarters. But Office 2010 was released toward the end of June last year. As the anniversary passes, that division will be facing much harder comparisons with last year.

[H/T: Reuters]