What a difference a week makes
Even competitors are helping out with some uncharacteristic missteps; AAPL having some fairly significant - not to mention embarrassing - teething problems with Leopard; GOOG suffering brain-drain and flailing a bit trying to check the growth and popularity of Facebook; Linux growth beginning to slow as the initial migration from proprietary UNIX starts to abate. Not to be left out, mainstream media is jumping on board too. For example, Joe Wilcox writing about the AAPL/MSFT double standard (funny stuff, especially since as a supposedly neutral [at least] MSFT observer he has been among the worst offenders) and ZDNet asking "Can't we give MSFT some props?". [BTW, have no fear. Yours truly isn't about to drink the Kool-Aid completely just yet].
And with that, the stock continues to act more like a Chinese IPO. Okay... maybe I'm pushing it a bit there. But it has made a pretty good dent in the past 5 years of underperformance (now ahead of the NAS over 1 year, still behind over 3). I tell you, if it wasn't for the fact that the sun keeps rising each morning and setting each evening, I'd question whether I was dreaming. If MSFT now starts hitting ship dates consistently, I'll be forced to conclude that I've finally wigged out or entered the Twilight Zone.
Of course, the (more likely) reality is that MSFT wasn't as bad as it seemed a week ago, nor as good as it seems now. The problems that were there before are still there, and much of this [stock] move is simply catch up. For example, even with the recent jump, MSFT still trails the industry average P/E. Plus, the shattering of the 5 year trading range likely attracted some short-term technical buyers - and they'll unwind their trades and take their profits as quickly as they put them on. Still, the high volume that has characterized this move suggests that institutions are doing some serious buying as well. And they don't normally do that unless they expect several good quarters ahead. That said, a decent pullback would seem like a foregone conclusion and even healthy, whereas a continued run without consolidation is risky long term. Today, we didn't end on the high while the Nasdaq did. So perhaps that correction is coming. We'll see (although it's up in AH).
Getting back to the company, I hope the recent stock run is viewed in context internally, not used to excuse continued inaction or otherwise ignore the many areas that still need attention. In particular, I hope someone sees the wisdom inherent in this statement, made recently by YHOO's Jerry Yang [bolding mine]:
In an acknowledgement of the famous "peanut butter" memo, in which one Yahoo executive accused the company of spreading itself too thinly, Yang admitted: "We have taken this idea that we can do two or three things well and not a thousand little things. It probably means we won't focus on a bunch of other stuff. We are in that process of identifying what makes it and what doesn't make it."
But for now, like most shareholders, I'm enjoying the ride and hoping it's the beginning of a more positive process versus just an event.
FWIW: Some other articles I've been reading:
- Microsoft looks to a world beyond Windows
- Microsoft Can Still Get Better
- Microsoft Must Kill Google, Now [how can you resist with a title like that?]
Also, a useful earnings table that I came across: