THE MICROSOFT INVESTOR: Investors Look For Clarity On Tablets, Search And Strength Of Office 2010

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MSFT Holding As Market Slides
The market was on the rise this morning with a surprise drop in jobless claims, but stocks began sliding midday. Shares of MSFT are holding steady ahead of quarterly earnings tonight at 5:30pm. Other upcoming catalysts include insight into upgrade cycles of Office 2010 and Windows 7; any entrance into the tablet market (even just as an operating system); the launch of Windows Phone 7; any adoption of the company’s cloud computing efforts; and gamer adoption of Kinect. The stock currently trades at 9x Enterprise Value / TTM Free Cash Flow, inexpensive compared to historical trading multiples.Join Us LIVE For Microsoft’s Earnings Coverage (Business Insider)
For up to-the-minute coverage on Microsoft’s earnings, conference call and related commentary, join Matt Rosoff at SAI. The press release will cross between 4:15pm and 4:30pm ET and the call starts at 5:30pm ET. 

Wall Street Looking For $15.8 Billion In Revenue And Profit Of $0.55 (The Street)
Buoyed by strong enterprise adoption of Windows 7, Microsoft is expected to announce decent fiscal first quarter results tonight, however concerns about PC demand weakness may hamper growth. Analysts are anticipating total revenue of $15.8 billion and profit of $0.55 cents. Microsoft has been downgraded three times in October over concerns about sluggish PC sales and worries that tablet devices could cannibalise Microsoft’s PC business.

Investors Look For Clarity: Tablets, Departures, Bing, Office 2010 (All Things Digital)
Top of mind for investors tonight: 1) can the company be more nimble in tablets than it was with smartphones; 2) sales of its new Office 2010, which came out in the quarter; 3) news of the progress of its Bing search service; and 4) any sign of what the software giant has to say about some recent key exec departures (Stephen Elop, Ray Ozzie, etc.). Microsoft is certainly not the hot mess Yahoo has been, but it will be interesting to hear the kind of signals coming out of the company later today.

Microsoft Should Buy Or Partner With Baidu To Take China Search (Seeking Alpha)
Now that the search alliance with Yahoo! is firmly in place, Microsoft should look elsewhere for search penetration, particularly in China, and look into the “long-term” possibility of acquiring / partnering with Baidu. China is the fastest growing market for online search and holds the most promise in terms of incremental monetization potential. If Microsoft has serious intentions of taking global market share from Google, then it needs to buy, not build.

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