Microsoft Rises on Big Xbox Sales

Microsoft Corp. reported revenue and earnings for its fiscal second quarter that topped Wall Street expectations, as the company sold 3.9 million Xbox One consoles to retailers and doubled revenue from its line of Surface tablets from a quarter earlier.

Net income in the quarter through December climbed to $6.56 billion, or 78 cents per share, from $6.38 billion, or 76 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 14 percent to $24.52 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of 68 cents per share on revenue of $23.67 billion.

Outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer, who announced he'd step down by August, said in a statement the Redmond, Washington-based company's devices and consumer segment had a "great holiday quarter." A new CEO is expected to be announced soon.

Surface revenue rose to $893 million in the quarter, up from $400 million in the three months through September, as the company benefited from a summertime price cut to its first-generation models, unveiled the Surface 2 and expanded the number of places it is sold at retail.

"There's better hardware, the software continues to improve and there's better market perception," said Chris Suh, Microsoft's general manager of investor relations, in an interview with The Associated Press. He added that there has been "good pick-up" of Surface 2. "The trajectory is a lot better than a couple of quarters ago."

However, analysts continue to question the company's new focus on manufacturing hardware on top of its mainstay software business. The Surface division continued to lose money as the company strived to reach manufacturing scale that would make it profitable. Meanwhile, Xbox One, which launched in November, is still in the money-losing phase typical of new consoles, though that should change in later years as it profits from game sales.

Making matters worse on the hardware front, Microsoft plans to complete its $7.4...

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