) has had two strong days Tuesday and Wednesday, defying an
On Tuesday, an analyst at Citigroup lowered his rating from
buy to neutral. After dropping at the open, the stock reversed,
backed by a strong rally in the general market, and finished up
more than 2.3%. On Wednesday, it was up nearly 3%. It seems to
have found support near its 200-day moving average.
Microsoft was one of the great growth stories on the 1980s and
1990s. But since the market top in early 2000, it's gone
It's essentially moved sideways and has failed to reach its
all-time high of 53.98 set on Dec. 30, 1999.
But earnings have been rising, although not as fast as the
1990s and in an uneven manner.
In the most recent quarter, Microsoft reported a 17% earnings
increase, although analysts are forecasting an 11% decline in the
The company pays an annual dividend of $1.12 a share, which
works out to a 3.1% yield.
It has a three- to five-year dividend growth rate of 17%.
It offered a 9-cent-per-quarter dividend in 2006, which it has
raised to 28 cents this year.
Microsoft has some serious problems. Its mobile operating
system is lagging well behind those of competitorsApple (
) andGoogle (
CEO Steve Ballmer is leaving, and the company is seeking a
high-powered replacement who can get the company back in the
forefront of innovation.
The company was reported to be courting Alan Mulally, who has
been credited with revivingFord (
). But the chief executive recently said he plans on staying with
The Citi analyst who downgraded Microsoft cited fears an
insider would get the top job and fail to energize the