Microsoft: Upcoming New Product Cycles Should Drive Earnings

Rick Sherlund, software analyst at Goldman Sachs, raised his price target on Microsoft (MSFT) yesterday to $36 from $33, "largely due to increased confidence in upcoming new product cycles driving earnings upside."

Sherlund notes that the company will report earnings for the fiscal second quarter ended Decmeber 31 on January 25. He is looking for $12.2 billion in revenue and EPS of 24 cents. He notes that this will be followed by the January 30 launch of Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange Server 2007. Sherlund says that strong Xbox 360 sales could add about $150 million revenue upside in the quarter.

Sherlund expects the new versions of Windows and Office to add $1 billion in incremental revenue over the the first 12 months after they are released. He also expects an acceleration in consumer PC unit growth rates "as a replacement cycle is stimulated by Vista's new user interface, consumer oriented multimedia capabilities and enhanced security."

December quarter cheat sheet: Sherlund sees $2.63 billion in revenue from the Client (i.e., Windows) division; $2.80 billion from servers and tools; $615 million from online services; $3.38 billion from the Microsoft Business Division; and $2.75 billion from the entertainment and devices division.

Microsoft was up 14 cents yesterday at $31.30.

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