Microsoft is set to report its second quarterly loss in three decades as a publicly traded company, the result of a $7.6 billion hit to the value of the Nokia phone unit the company purchased a year earlier.
On Tuesday, the company is scheduled to disclose its financial performance for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015, as well as numbers for the full year.
For investors trying to gauge the health of the Redmond company, though, it’s the numbers behind the headline that count. Here are a few things to watch for when Microsoft reports earnings for the three months ended in June.
Nokia writedown was costly
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Microsoft earlier this month announced 7,800 layoffs, the $7.6 billion charge, and as much as $850 million in restructuring costs to account for the sharply reduced value of the phone hardware business it had purchased a year earlier.
The cost will fall as an on-paper hit to the company’s results during the quarter, almost certainly pushing Microsoft to its first quarterly loss since 2012.
Back then, the culprit was the same: an expensive acquisition gone wrong. The company took a $6.2 billion charge to write down essentially the entire value of aQuantive, a Seattle digital advertising company Microsoft had acquired in 2007.
Expect more progress in cloud, hurdles in Windows, Office
It’s becoming a theme for Microsoft’s earnings: the old is flatlining or shrinking, while the new is growing.
Sales of copies of Windows and Office, traditionally the bulk of Microsoft’s revenue, are stagnant or in decline. That’s not likely to change this quarter.
PC sales — which tend to drive purchases of both Windows and Office — fell 9.5 percent in the quarter from a year earlier, researcher Gartner estimates.
On the other hand, sales of Web-based Office 365, cloud-computing tools, and the company’s server tools are rising. Microsoft’s “commercial cloud,” which includes Office 365 for business, the Azure cloud-computing platform, and online editions of Microsoft’s business management tools, has posted triple-digit year-over-year revenue gains for several quarters in a row.
The stronger U.S. dollar probably hurt
The dollar hasn’t been kind to Microsoft and its peers in corporate America. The currency is near multi-year highs against the likes of the Japanese yen and the euro, which means every product Microsoft sells in those markets translates to less profit when exchanged back into dollars at home.
Microsoft estimates that currency headwinds reduced the company’s revenue by about 4 percent.
The numbers: The company is expected to report a loss of 42 cents a share, or $3.1 billion, according to the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Excluding the impact of the Nokia writedown and other one-time items, profit is expected to be 58 cents a share, from 55 cents a share a year earlier. Adjusted net income is expected to be $4.7 billion.
Revenue is expected to be $22 billion, down 5.6 percent from a year earlier.
The bottom line: June wraps up Microsoft’s fiscal year, and another year of transition for Microsoft’s business model. Chief Executive Satya Nadella is working to reshape the company as one that can thrive in Web-delivered software, but the company isn’t there yet.
Analysts think Microsoft pulled in $21.4 billion in profit during the fiscal year, down 4 percent from the prior year. That’s a healthy chunk of change, but is the third consecutive annual decline (adjusting for one-time items) for a company whose profit went nowhere but up for most of its life.