Microsoft Corp posted its first-ever loss on Thursday, shedding US$492 million in the fourth quarter because of a massive US$6.2 billion write-down to reflect the slump in value of its online operations.
The fourth-quarter losses stemmed from a charge reflecting a write-down related to the 2007 acquisition of digital advertising firm aQuantive.
Microsoft still recorded an annual profit of US$16.98 billion and said the results reflected “solid revenue growth and rigorous cost discipline.”
The computing giant had announced earlier this month it would take the US$6.2 billion write-down, which is required by accounting rules and does not affect the company’s cash position.
Taking out one-time charges, Microsoft showed a profit of US$0.73 a share, well ahead of Wall Street expectations of US$0.62.
Revenue also beat expectations, rising 4 percent to US$18 billion in the quarter to June 30. For the full year, revenues were up 5 percent at US$73.7 billion.
“We delivered record fourth quarter and annual revenue and we’re fast approaching the most exciting launch season in Microsoft history,” Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said.
The company is preparing to release Windows 8, the next version of its market-leading operating system and a new tablet computer, while making an aggressive move into smartphones. Windows 8 will be publicly available on Oct. 26.
Windows remains the dominant platform for PCs, but it has lost ground to Google Inc and Apple Inc in newer devices, which use rival operating systems. Meanwhile, the company’s search and online services have struggled, but its Xbox gaming system has become the hottest in the industry.