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2HRS2GO: Looking at Microsoft through the figures

In the blitz of statistics that left analysts with aching hands from writing so much yesterday afternoon, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) tossed out a few intriguing tidbits. Microsoft's fourth quarter by the numbers:

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39 percent. Percentage growth rate in the fourth quarter, as reported on paper.

26 percent. Actual 4Q growth rate excluding a reduction in estimated product returns; Office 2000 coupon revenue; accounting changes.

31.6 percent. Average annual growth rate, fiscal 1993 through 1999.

19.9 percent. Maximum projected growth rate for fiscal 2000, according to Microsoft.

0 percent. Margin improvement expected by Microsoft in fiscal 2000. "We'll be lucky to keep it about constant," said Greg Maffei, Microsoft CFO.

0 percent. Investors who actually believe Microsoft's warnings.

$80 million. Amount spent on various trial defenses.

9-to-1. Microsoft's odds of winning the antitrust case, according to at least one online book, Nasa Sports International.

1-to-2. Odds of the federal government winning.

1-to-6. Odds of a settlement before a verdict.

2. Number of Ken Starr investigations that could have been paid for with Microsoft's legal expenditures.

0 percent. Unbiased observers who believe Bill Clinton's deposition.

0 percent. Unbiased observers who believe Bill Gates' deposition.

$217 million. Amount spent on stock option compensation.

$105 million. Options compensation for R&D employees

$940 million. Fourth quarter R&D budget

0. Revolutionary inventions of Microsoft.

All. Products resulting from refinements of pre-existing ideas.

$60. Price you pay to do the R&D department's beta testing for Windows 2000.

$21. Microsoft IPO price.

8. Stock splits since March 1986 IPO.

$93.50. Current Microsoft price.

64,014 percent. Total return on 13+ year investment.

100 percent. Satisfied long-term investors.

More than 10,000. People listening to yesterday's conference call.

2. Number of companies (Vcall, webcasting the call.

1:18:55. Hours, minutes and seconds of the call.

41:47. Time in minutes and seconds of the formal presentation.

Infinity. Seeming length of the formal presentation.

1. Analysts who complained of sore hands from taking so many notes during that presentation. "We think we set the world land Microsoft speed record for longest conference call prior to questions," Maffei joked. At least I think he was joking.

Other issues:

  • PRI Automation Inc.
  • (Nasdaq: PRIA) After a third quarter net loss of 17 cents a share, the vendor of factory systems for the chip and electronics industries sees a turnaround; but Wall Street doesn't, judging from today's retreat. Hambrecht & Quist downgraded the stock to "market perform" from "buy" and Merrill Lynch cut it to "near-term neutral" from "near-term accumulate".

  • Inter-Tel Inc.
  • (Nasdaq: INTL) The provider of digital phone systems, IP and computer telephony offerings, voice-processing software and long distance services posted second quarter earnings of 27 cents a share, easily besting the consensus analyst forecast of 22 cents. Jefferies & Co. reiterated a "buy" rating on the stock, raised its price target to $35 from $18, and increased earnings estimates.

  • RealNetworks Inc.
  • (Nasdaq: RNWK) Ahead of this afternoon's scheduled second quarter report for RealNetworks, Banc of America Securities analyst Greg Vogel began coverage the streaming media software vendor with a "buy" rating and a price target of $105. First Call's survey of 10 analysts not only predicts a loss of 2 cents a share, but also forecasts the second quarter to be the last period in the red for RealNetworks.

  • Excite@Home Inc.
  • (Nasdaq: ATHM) Today's scheduled release marks the first quarterly report for the combined company, but given that the merger wasn't completed until the end of May, don't use it as a benchmark yet, although, in case you care, First Call's survey of 15 analysts predicts a loss of 2 cents a share. One disappointment already: no evidence of a webcast for the conference call. And this is supposed to be a broadband specialist?

  • Infoseek Inc.
  • (Nasdaq: SEEK) While Excite@Home is just starting, Infoseek enters its lame duck phase, now that we know it's going to become a full-fledged subsidiary of Walt Disney Co. Other than curiosity, not much reason to tune into this conference call.

    The overall market's day-long retreat continued into the afternoon. With two hours left in regular trading, the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 88.22 to 2742.07, the S&P 500 lower by 26.23 to 1381.42, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 134.87 to 11052.81. 22GO>