Microsoft shares jumped four per cent last night as it unveiled better-than-expected results for its fourth quarter, driven by a surprising rise in demand in PCs and strong Surface sales.
For the three months to 31 December, Microsoft's net income crept up three per cent annually to $6.56bn (£3.85bn) on like-for-like sales which surged 14 per cent to $24.52bn - above Wall Street expectations of $23.68bn.
In Q4, its Device and Consumer unit's sales shot up 13 per cent year on year to $11.91bn while its Commercial division's revenue climbed ten per cent to $12.67bn over the same period.
Double-digit SQL Server revenue growth and rocketing numbers of Office 365 and Azure customers were the shining stars in its Commercial division, along with its System Centre products which also posted strong growth in Q4.
Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer gave no hints as to who would replace him when he leaves the role before the summer, but did say the firm's progress is pleasing.
"The investments we are making in devices and services that deliver high-value experiences to our customers, and the work we are doing with our partners, are driving strong results and positioning us well for long-term growth," he said.
At the end of Microsoft's last fiscal year, it had to take a $900m write down in the value of its Surface tablets, but in Q4, both units and revenue more than doubled.
Microsoft's chief financial officer Amy Hood said demand is on the up.
"With Surface, demand continued to grow, benefitting from improved execution at retail and favourable reviews of the new Surface devices," she said. "We feel good about the progress we have made over the past couple of quarters, and are enthusiastic about the overall opportunity ahead with Surface."
Hood was equally as enthusiastic about the PC market. Gartner said that in the last quarter, global PC shipments slumped 6.9 per cent annually, but Hood said the XP migration campaign is boosting trade.
"Business PCs grew again, for the third consecutive quarter, and benefited from an improving macro environment, better availability of innovative new hardware, and a refresh cycle ahead of Windows XP end of support," she said.
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