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July 19, 2007

News and numbers ahead of MSFT, GOOG earnings

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 10:17 AM

Shares of Microsoft stock are up 54 cents, 1.75 percent, to $31.46 in mid-day trading today ahead of the company's after-the-bell earnings report. The stock has been on a bit of a tear this week and is threatening to take out its 52-week high.

Google, which also reports earnings today, is getting more scrutiny of its proposed acquisition of online advertiser DoubleClick. The Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee's consumer protection subcommittee are planning to call Google executives to testify in hearings on the $3.1 billion deal in late summer or early fall, according to The Associated Press.

A key measure of the competition between Google and Microsoft is the share of Internet searches performed on each companies' service. Nielsen//NetRatings today confirmed what the comScore figures released earlier this week showed: Microsoft had a substantial year-over-year gain in U.S. search share during June. That's not the whole story, though. Microsoft acknowledged that its Live Search Club games were probably behind the gains, and another AP report explained how many people playing those games didn't even know they were performing the searches.

U.S. Web traffic to the two companies' sites, another important part of the online battle, was almost equal in the June quarter, but Google's growth rate is much faster. According to Nielsen:

-- Google's traffic grew "20 percent year over year, from a three-month average monthly unique audience of 95.9 million in Q2 2006 to 115.2 million in Q2 2007."

-- Microsoft's traffic "increased 3 percent year over year, from a three-month average monthly unique audience of 113.9 million unique visitors in Q2 2006 to 117.8 million unique visitors in Q2 2007."

As I reported today, many analysts will be watching Microsoft's report today to see how Windows Vista performed in its first full-month of availability. One analyst I spoke to talked about better-than-expected growth for the operating system on a strong PC market. IDC confirmed that just such a market existed in the second-calendar quarter: Worldwide PC shipments were up 12.5 percent.

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Tricia Duryee
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Benjamin J. Romano
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