Microsoft reported a $6.3 billion loss in the second quarter. But without a charge reflecting a $13.8 billion tax payment related to the company’s overseas funds, it showed a profit of $7.5 billion.
Microsoft reported a $6.3 billion loss in its second quarter, reflecting a huge charge stemming from last year’s tax-reform legislation. Without that charge, the results were better than analysts expected.
The Redmond company’s fiscal second-quarter earnings reflect a $13.8 billion tax payment related to Microsoft profits held overseas. The software giant holds about $132.1 billion outside the U.S., the second-largest amount of any U.S. corporation.
The new federal tax law gives companies an incentive to bring their substantial overseas holdings back to the U.S. by mandating a one-time tax rate of 15.5 percent on overseas money. That’s much lower than the previous 35 percent rate, which companies could defer until they returned that income to the U.S. Some of the overseas funds — those held in real estate and other physical properties — are now taxed at an even lower 8 percent.
While Microsoft is accounting for the entire tax charge in the latest quarter, it will pay the bill over time — companies have eight years to do so. Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood declined to say how much cash Microsoft would bring back to the U.S., or when, or what the company might do with it.
Apple, which has the most cash stored overseas with more than $246 billion offshore, said earlier this month it planned to repatriate most of the cash and pay $38 billion in taxes. It will use part of the repatriated money to construct a new campus and add jobs, it said. Apple also plans to pay employees $2,500 bonuses because of the new tax law.
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The last time Microsoft brought a significant amount of overseas money back to the U.S., during a 2004 tax-repatriation holiday, the company gave shareholders a one-time $3-per-share dividend and increased its quarterly dividend.
Hood said the company has not been waiting for tax reform to take the “opportunity to invest,” but added that the new law would make a large sum of cash more accessible to the company. Previously, Microsoft could have accessed that cash by paying the 35 percent rate to return it to the U.S., but the company generally issued corporate bonds as an alternative.
The company beat analysts’ expectations for its second-quarter results, posting revenue of $28.9 billion, a 12 percent increase over the same period last year, and adjusted earnings per share — not including the tax charge — of 96 cents. Wall Street analysts expected Microsoft to earn 86 cents a share on revenue of $28.38 billion.
Without the big tax charge, Microsoft reported a profit of $7.5 billion, compared with a profit of $6.3 billion in last year’s second quarter.
Revenue at Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing division, a main focus for investors, grew 98 percent during the quarter. The company’s commercial cloud — which includes Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 — reported revenue of $5.3 billion during the quarter, a 56 percent increase.
Microsoft’s biggest revenue generator of the quarter was once again its Windows, Xbox and PC businesses, a group it calls “more personal computing.” That unit brought in $12.2 billion.
Gaming sales notched up by 8 percent since the previous year, which Microsoft attributed to the new Xbox One X that launched in November. The high-end console sells for a hefty price starting at $499.99, more than most other consoles on the market and aimed at serious gamers.
Microsoft’s stock closed up more than 2 percent at a record $95.01 Wednesday before the results were released. The share price edged up to $95.08 in after-hours trading after the results were posted.