Microsoft Scores Earnings Beat as Consumer Sales Jump

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Microsoft Corp. Earns
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Matt Egan

Microsoft (MSFT) gave Wall Street a solid upside surprise on Thursday as the tech veteran posted an unexpected 3 percent increase in fiscal second-quarter earnings on double-digit revenue growth.

Shares of Mr. Softee climbed more than 2 percent on the earnings beat in after-hours action.

Microsoft's results suggest it is making progress in its shift from a software-focused company to one that increasingly relies on hardware like the Xbox gaming console and Surface tablet.

The company said it earned $6.56 billion, or 78 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $6.38 billion, or 76 cents a share, a year earlier. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Analysts had called for EPS of just 68 cents.

Revenue rose 14 percent to $24.52 billion, topping the Street's view of $23.68 billion.

"Our commercial segment continues to outpace the overall market, and our devices and consumer segment had a great holiday quarter," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement.

Microsoft logged a 13 percent jump in devices and consumer revenue to $11.91 billion as Surface revenue more than doubled sequentially to $893 million. The company said it sold 7.4 million Xbox units into the retail channel, including 3.9 million Xbox One consoles.

While Windows OEM revenue dipped 3 percent, Microsoft's Bing search market share grew to 18.2 percent and its search ad sales soared 34 percent.

On the commercial front, revenue increased 10 percent to $12.67 billion thanks to increased market share for the SQL server business and revenue growth for the company's system center and commercial cloud services.

Microsoft offered no update on its search for a successor Ballmer. Earlier this month, Ford (F) CEO Alan Mulally, who had been seen as a front-runner for the top job at Microsoft, removed himself from the race.

Shares of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft rallied 2.73 percent to $37.04 in extended trading, putting them on track to extend their 12-month rally of 32 percent.

8 Cheap Ways to Have Fun This Winter
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Microsoft Scores Earnings Beat as Consumer Sales Jump

I always assumed I needed a cabin in the mountains, an ax or other weaponry draped over my shoulder, and a full beard in order to snowshoe. But as it happens, snowshoeing can be done by pretty much anyone, fairly cheaply. Find a local outdoor equipment rental supplier and snag yourself a pair of snowshoes for under $10.

Sledding has two perks that make it a perfect winter activity: 1. It's free (assuming you have a sled or a friend's you can borrow). 2. You're outside, but you're not cold, because all it takes is a couple of times climbing back up your favorite sledding hill, and you're breaking a sweat. And did you know that sledding is the cutest photo op for a family ever? Oops, that's three things.
There's no better way to enjoy winter than from the inside of your toasty warm car. And no December is complete without a self-guided tour of the best local Christmas lights. This list compiles some favorite spots across the country, but you can also Google the best displays in your area. And (added bonus), your children are strapped in for this activity, which should keep things simple and (relatively) drama-free.
Thanks to Pinterest, the DIY bug is more contagious than ever -- especially during the winter. If you're looking for a free way to unleash your inner Martha (or Marty, for you guys out there) Stewart, try out a free DIY workshop from home-improvement stores like The Home Depot or craft stores like Michaels. Other retailers are also getting in on the action, such as Apple, which hosted hour-long coding classes for children at their stores this week.
Get the thrill of the outdoors without the winter weather in the pleasant confines of an indoor rock gym. For the price of a movie and popcorn, you can get a day pass, learn how to belay friends and family safely, and scale to your heart's (and ripped forearms') content.
When winter gives you frozen lemons, make piping-hot lemonade -- and then swim in it. (That's the expression, right?) According to the National Geophysical Data Center, there are over 1,661 natural hot springs in the United States. However, most are out West. If you happen to live east of the Rockies, it's high time to make friends with a hot-tub owner.
Leave the fancy clubs and goofy-looking pants at home; this is poor man's golf. But don't let that fool you. It's a great game for beginners and Tiger Woods frisbee-ers alike. With public courses across the country and greens fees that are typically 100 percent cheaper than regular golf, you might completely forget about those clubs in your trunk come spring.
Going to a movie for a dollar might sound like something your grandparents did in simpler times, but believe it or not, you can still catch recent releases in theaters for just a buck or two. They're getting harder to find, but do yourself (and your budget) a favor by finding a local dollar theater this winter for some quality entertainment.
So leave the hibernating to the grizzlies and your weird roommate and get yourself out and about this winter. If your budget can get along and have a good time with these cold-weather activities, so can you.
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