Microsoft Corp investors, who had already pushed the shares up 43 percent this year, said yesterday's antitrust settlement with the US Department of Justice validated their faith that the largest software maker would emerge with its growth prospects intact. \n"It's a tremendous relief," said Larry Jones, chief investment officer of Durham, North Carolina-based NCM Capital Management Group Inc. Jones has been buying Microsoft shares this year as the company's legal prospects improved. \nMicrosoft is the best performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year. Investors bought shares as the company sought to overturn a breakup order and settle the case on terms that didn't hinder growth and product development. The US accord, which lets Microsoft pursue its Web strategy and build new features into the Windows operating system, gave investors a new surge of optimism. \n"As bright as Microsoft's future was before, it's even brighter with this," said Michael Holland, who manages the Holland Balanced Fund, a US$60 million fund with 4 percent of its holdings in Microsoft stock. \n"The legal process will be more rational from now on and Microsoft will be allowed to compete." \nHolland said he bought "a chunk of his holdings" after an appeals court in June overturned a breakup of the Redmond, Washington-based company and removed the judge who ordered it. \nWith the major US legal concerns out of the way, the stock may rise to the low US$70s, said Marc Klee, money manager with the US$800 million John Hancock Technology Fund, which holds Microsoft shares. The shares fell US$0.44 yesterday to US$61.40. \nBill Rutherford, principal of Rutherford Investment Management, said a large jump is unlikely in the next few months, because the stock has already risen on speculation that a favorable settlement would be reached. \n"The market has been anticipating a settlement since the Bush administration came in," said Rutherford, whose firm has about US$100 million in assets and holds about 100,000 Microsoft shares. "I don't think it's a stock anyone would sell, but you can't expect a big run-up." \nThe 18 states suing Microsoft haven't approved the settlement, although three leading state attorneys general immediately praised the agreement. A judge said she wants the states to take a position by tomorrow. \nThe EU's antitrust investigation of Microsoft for dominating the market for software to run corporate networks is still in progress. The company is interested in settling that case as well, CEO Steve Ballmer said.. \nBecause Microsoft holds such a large part of the software market, Holland said Microsoft still faces legal scrutiny. The settlement is just "an important mile marker" in Microsoft's legal marathon, he said. \nStill, many investors say the worst is over because important concerns were put to rest. \nThe settlement won't require the company to make significant and immediate alterations to the Windows XP program that went on sale last week, as investors had feared. The required changes can wait for the first collection of bug fixes Microsoft releases. \nMore important to Microsoft's plans for the next several years, the company will be able to proceed with an Internet strategy that involves adding new programs and features to the Windows system that already runs 90 percent of the world's personal computers. \nInvestors were reassured that the settlement lets the company move forward with its plan, dubbed .Net, to develop Internet services that connect PCs, Web sites, networks and devices such as cell phones and organizers. The company started by adding such services to Windows XP and plans to reinforce that effort in future versions. Microsoft is pushing .Net as a way to boost sales as the PC market stagnates. \nThe resolution of the US antitrust case lets investors focus more closely on Microsoft's business. Investors say a slew of new product releases and the success of Windows 2000 for business computers and networks will lift sales in the next several quarters. The slowing US economy has sapped growth at corporate-software rivals such as Oracle Corp and PC makers that use Microsoft's software. \n"I have no concerns with their legal problems that could overwhelm the very positive product space, with Windows XP, .Net, the success of Windows 2000," said David Brady, who helps manage the Stein Roe Young Investor Fund, which holds 600,000 shares of Microsoft. \nThe settlement does restrict some Microsoft behavior that even its own investors said had to change to "comply with the law." \nMicrosoft must let computer makers promote rival software by placing a link on the primary Windows screen to those programs. That could increase competition for Microsoft's programs that are included in Windows. Microsoft had previously used desktop links to bolster its own new products and compensate for inferior products.
TWEET CONFIRMED: The US’ Morgan Ortagus backed up Taiwan, saying China only admitted that human-to-human transmission was possible as late as Jan. 20 Taiwan warned the WHO and China about possible human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus at the end of last year, but the global health body did not make it public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Department of International Organizations Director-General Bob Chen (陳龍錦) made the remark at a news briefing in Taipei, when asked about statements made by US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. “Dec. 31— that’s the same day Taiwan first tried to warn WHO of human-human transmission. Chinese authorities meanwhile silenced doctors and refused to admit human-human transmission until Jan. 20, with catastrophic consequences,” Ortagus wrote on
ON THE LOOKOUT: A Lockheed EP-3 reconnaissance plane was yesterday seen flying southwest of Kaohsiung, according to Twitter account ‘Aircraft Spots’ A Twitter account that tracks military aircraft movements has indicated an increase in US military activity near Taiwan, coinciding with an increase in Chinese military activity in the area. Planes from the US Seventh Fleet have been sighted frequently above the South China Sea in the past several days, and a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane was seen flying close to Taiwanese airspace southwest of Kaohsiung yesterday, according to posts by the Twitter account Aircraft Spots. The EP-3 was seen circling above the same area, Aircraft Spots said, adding that other planes from the fleet were seen in the past few days
A Taipei resident who had breached his home quarantine order was found on Tuesday night in an Internet cafe and fined NT$1 million (US$32,976), Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said yesterday, as the Taipei City Government announced a short-term COVID-19 relief plan. Huang on Tuesday afternoon publicized the name of the man, Chen Tse (陳冊), who on Saturday last week returned from Beijing and was ordered to undergo 14-day home quarantine. However, city monitoring officials were unable to contact him by mobile phone or at his home. Chen was found by police at an Internet cafe on Nanyang Street, Huang said
ACCLIMATION: Chen Shih-chung said that only ‘soft’ policies have been carried out so far, but ‘hard’ measures would be implemented if the coronavirus situation worsens The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday recommended that indoor events of more than 100 people and outdoor events with more than 500 people should be canceled, as 19 new imported cases of COVID-19 were announced, bringing the total number in Taiwan to 235. “The center recommends that from now, indoor events of more than 100 people and outdoor events with more than 500 people should be suspended to reduce the risk of COVID-19 community transmission,” said Deputy Minister of the Interior Chen Tsung-yen (陳宗彥), deputy head of the center. Event organizers should refer to six indicators listed in the response guidelines