Buy the rumor, sell the news?
Of course, it might have been that lesser-known adage "If Ballmer's talking in public, sell!". That one has a near-perfect track record of success. See his webcast here btw, if interested (I didn't bother).
Getting back to the chart, check out that EOD sell volume. Not exactly the kind of reception you'd like to have on such a day. Yes, there has been quite a run up recently. However, that's also true of competitors GOOG and AAPL, yet both managed to perform better on the day despite any equivalent news. At least volume wasn't that high - that's something to be thankful for. But the long-worried about $30 ceiling is starting to look pretty formidable here, and it's unclear what positive news MSFT has left that isn't already in the market.
As always, the timing of Gates' regular dumping didn't help. Given that the only quarter he didn't sell in recent history was - conveniently - the one right before the tender and increased buyback announcement that sparked the recent run up, it would have been nice if he could have passed on another quarter to give the stock a chance at finally breaking through $30. But alas, no such luck - and maybe it wouldn't have helped anyway.
I also see that short interest has been on a tear recently. The author attributes it to disappointment over ZUNE, but my take is that it's simply traders making a bet that the stock is now effectively out of "good news" gas (some of it five years in the making) and yet, even with that, hasn't managed to take out the 4 year old trading range top convincingly. As such, the odds of it doing so are falling, while the odds of a trip back down are increasing. It's the old "the trend is your friend" phenomenon.
So, is the company out of good news gas? Are there some positive developments still unknown by the street? Have they completed all their buybacks or is there still some significant amount to do? Is this just the pause that refreshes? Are some of the executives going to finally put their wallet behind their "confidence and optimism" and actually buy some shares? Okay, forget that particular pipe dream. Or are the short-interest traders right and this was just another trip to the top on the MSFT yo-yo before heading back down? I guess we'll find out...
Update: Even this fairly significant news during the session didn't help:
Update #2: Looks like we're getting our answer, as the stock has clearly broken the previous uptrend and disconnected from the market - once again.