In the midst of declining earnings, Microsoft announced today that it will be laying off up to 5,000 people over the next 18 months, or about five percent of its total workforce. Of that amount, 1,400 are losing their jobs today. Microsoft also says that it will continue to hire and that the net headcount reduction over the next 18 months should amount to between 2,000 and 3,000. The layoffs, along with salary freezes, the elimination of contract workers, lower marketing spending, and other measures are expected to reduce operating expenditures by $1.5 billion this fiscal year.
The company reported revenues of $16.6 billion in the quarter, a two percent increase but $900 million lower than it had expected. The stock is down 7 percent on the news. Also, in an admission of the great economic uncertainty facing all companies, Microsoft is no longer giving guidance for future earnings:
Due to the volatility of market conditions going forward, Microsoft is no longer able to offer quantitative revenue and EPS guidance for the balance of this fiscal year.
Full press release:
Microsoft Corp. today announced revenue of $16.63 billion for the second quarter ended Dec. 31, 2008, a 2% increase over the same period of the prior year. Operating income, net income and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $5.94 billion, $4.17 billion and $0.47, declines of 8%, 11% and 6%, respectively, compared with the prior year.
Client revenue declined 8% as a result of PC market weakness and a continued shift to lower priced netbooks. However, strong annuity licensing drove Server & Tools revenue growth of 15%. Entertainment and Devices revenue grew 3% driven by strong holiday demand for Xbox 360 consoles with a record 6 million units sold in the quarter.
During the quarter, Microsoft showcased significant new product innovations by debuting Windows 7, Windows Azure, Office Web applications, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Office Communications Server 2007 R2. Microsoft also announced general availability of Silverlight 2, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Windows Small Business Server 2008, Windows Essential Business Server 2008 and a new release of Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
“While we are not immune to the effects of the economy, I am confident in the strength of our product portfolio and soundness of our approach,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “We will continue to manage expenses and invest in long-term opportunities to deliver value to customers and shareholders, and we will emerge an even stronger industry leader than we are today.”
In light of the further deterioration of global economic conditions, Microsoft announced additional steps to manage costs, including the reduction of headcount-related expenses, vendors and contingent staff, facilities, capital expenditures and marketing. As part of this plan, Microsoft will eliminate up to 5,000 jobs in R&D, marketing, sales, finance, legal, HR, and IT over the next 18 months, including 1,400 jobs today. These initiatives will reduce the company’s annual operating expense run rate by approximately $1.5 billion and reduce fiscal year 2009 capital expenditures by $700 million.
“Economic activity and IT spend slowed beyond our expectations in the quarter, and we acted quickly to reduce our cost structure and mitigate its impact,” said Chris Liddell, chief financial officer at Microsoft. “We are planning for economic uncertainty to continue through the remainder of the fiscal year, almost certainly leading to lower revenue and earnings for the second half relative to the previous year. In this environment, we will focus on outperforming our competitors and addressing our cost structure.”
Due to the volatility of market conditions going forward, Microsoft is no longer able to offer quantitative revenue and EPS guidance for the balance of this fiscal year. Microsoft offers operating expense guidance of approximately $27.4 billion for the full year ending June 30, 2009. This information supercedes the fiscal year 2009 guidance that Microsoft provided on Oct. 23, 2008. Management will discuss second-quarter results, and the company’s qualitative business outlook on a conference call and webcast at 8 a.m. PST (11 a.m. EST) today.