THE MICROSOFT INVESTOR: Will Microsoft-Nokia Partnership Coming Out Tomorrow Work?

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MSFT Continues To Slide 
The market opened down despite new jobless claims hitting their lowest marks in nearly 2 and a half years. Shares of MSFT are down as well, slightly more than the rest of the tech sector. Upcoming catalysts include Nokia’s smartphone strategy will be announced tomorrow which could include Microsoft (see below); several events next week (World Mobile Congress and Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference) where Microsoft executives are speaking; entrance and uptake in the tablet market (a ways off); Windows Phone 7 adoption; strides against current market leaders in cloud computing; gaining search market share with Bing / Yahoo! partnership; and continued momentum of Kinect as well as other uses for the technology. The stock currently trades at 9x Enterprise Value / TTM Free Cash Flow, inexpensive compared to historical trading multiples.Nokia Reportedly Choosing Windows Phone 7 To Power Nokia Smartphones (Businessweek)
Mobile phone maker Nokia is close to announcing a partnership with Microsoft to adopt Windows Phone 7 for high-end Nokia phones. Nokia CEO Steve Elop talked both Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Google CEO Eric Schmidt about their phone platforms before deciding to go with Microsoft. Reports say that Nokia has already abandoned MeeGo, which was supposed to be its successor to the current Symbian platform for high-end phones. Nokia will announce its new smartphone strategy tomorrow. Read more thoughts from Matt Rosoff at Business Insider.

Googler Exposes Microsoft / Nokia Partnership In Derogatory Tweet (The Wall Street Journal)
Senior Google executive Vic Gundotra has the tech world abuzz with a somewhat inflammatory tweet dispatched ahead of Nokia’s new software strategy announcement this Friday: “Two turkeys do not make an Eagle.” Many believe that the Googler is exposing the rumoured partnership between Microsoft and Nokia early. After all, Gundotra used to work for Microsoft for 15 years. And there’s some serious history behind quote; it’s what former Nokia VP Anssi Vanjoki said in 2005 about BenQ buying Siemens’s failing handset business. Sounds a bit like a man scorned to me.

Analysts Giving Mixed Signals; Raising Price-Targets But Questioning Future (Seeing Alpha)
Some analysts are increasing their price targets on Microsoft stock after the company posted solid quarterly earnings and said it sold over 300 million Windows 7 licenses and 8 million Kinect motion controllers for the Xbox gaming console. Many, however, continue to ask questions about the company’s future, such as its plans for the mobile and tablet world. The median price-target based is $35, up from $32 in December, and about 20% higher than where the stock is currently. Of the 17 analysts who have recently changed or reiterated their price targets, 14 have a positive rating and 3 are neutral.

Could Bing Bring Down Google? (The Motley Fool)
Rick Aristotle Munarriz at The Motley Fool believes Microsoft is doing the seemingly impossible: Mr. Softy is beating (and copying) Google at its own game. Experian Hitwise reported that Bing-powered searches gained a good chunk of market share at Google’s expense last month. It’s also revealing a telltale metric that implies that queries are being better served on Bing than Google. Now that Bing has been fully integrated in Yahoo!, the nascent engine is accounting for more than 27% of the country’s search market. So Microsoft can’t just phone it in at this point; it needs to be hungrier than ever, because momentum swings both ways.

The Microsoft Management Shake Up Continues (All Things Digital)
The ripple effects at Microsoft in the wake of the looming departure of Microsoft Server and Tools head Bob Muglia continues. First Satya Nadella was promoted from head of the Bing search effort to the helm of the servers, tools and cloud computing business. Second, Amitabh Srivastava, head of Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform business, announced that he’s leaving the company. Srivastava, who joined Microsoft in 1997, was widely considered to be a possible successor to Muglia.

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