Few large companies immediately stir up so much of an emotional response as the name Microsoft.
Just from the investors and bloggers I keep an eye on opinions are as follows:
When it comes to Microsoft, I have long argued that they got lucky in their deal with IBM. After that, pretty much everything they ever did was either ripped off from someone else — as in stolen — or a very obvious “inspired by.” (They did occasionally buy stuff as well, but not if they could avoid it).
“But for now, let’s stick with the simple thesis: The Microsoft culture never respected intellectual property of others, and was a bully that took what it wanted.”
From Barry Ritholz in his blog post Microsoft the Innovator: Bing Copies Google Search Results
“I love how the mainstream financial press is down on Microsoft. I saw Larry Kudlow’s CNBC show a few nights ago when he and everyone were dissing the company. They acted like it was an old, stodgy industrial outfit. No one even mentioned how Microsoft is kicking Google’s butt in cloud computing.”
From John Bethel in his Controlled Greed blog Clough’s Take on Microsoft
“Microsoft reported blowout earnings last week, far exceeding analysts’ estimates, as revenues, operating income, and earnings per share rose 15%, 20% and 28%, respectively. The balance sheet is Fort Knox, with net cash exceeding $31.5 billion ($3.68/share), and the company bought back $5.1 billion of stock during the quarter, at which rate Microsoft will retire about 8% of its shares annually. Finally, the stock, at $24.05 net of cash, trades at a mere 10.1x trailing EPS and 9.3x consensus analysts’ EPS estimates for the next 12 months (which we think are much too low).”
From Whitney Tilson in his January 2011 letter to investors in his hedgefund T2 Partners
I have a position in Microsoft and am thus fully on the side of Whitney and John.
We have only Windows computers at home (accept for one iPod Touch) and I really like using Windows 7.
But that’s beside the point.
Microsoft is a company with a huge number of users of its products that at some future point will upgrade to the newest version of its either / or Windows, Office or server software – the remainder of its products including Bing is so small they can all be ignored in terms of profitability.
At a price to earnings ratio of just over 10 and good growth ahead of it I think it’s a great investment.
Irrespective of your emotional response.
I urge you to take another – objective – look.