The road isn’t going to get any easier for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) this year, according to analysts at BGC. The company’s stock has taken a dive since its weak earnings report, and while some analysts remain positive on Microsoft, BGC analyst Colin W. Gillis doesn’t see any chance for recovery this year. In a research note, he listed five reasons he believes the rest of the year will be difficult for the software giant.
Microsoft affected by slumping PC sales
Of course the biggest concern for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been falling PC sales, and the analyst’s first two reasons for envisioning a difficult year for the company are related to this concern. He said it’s possible that the PC market won’t ever get back to its peak of 96 million units, which it hit in the September quarter of 2011. In the June quarter this year, there were just 76 million units shipped. At this point Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is still struggling for traction in tablets and smartphones. It slashed prices recently on its Surface RT tablets. Sales of Nokia’s Lumia Windows Phones are improving, but they still have a ways to go before they will be an important competitor for iOS and Android.
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Second, Gillis believes that since PC sales are slumping, Microsoft’s Business Division will also see problems. The division sells Microsoft Office, which has traditionally been an important part of the company’s earnings results. He believes that since PC sales are falling, Microsoft will have difficulties keeping consumers and businesses loyal to its Office software because competitors like Samsung offer their own productivity tools on their notebook computers.
Windows 7 refresh is almost done
Third, the analyst notes that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) was able to cushion some of the blow from falling revenue in its Windows segment by offering an enterprise refresh to Windows 7. However, he says that this is winding down as about three-fourths of enterprise PCs are now running Windows 7.
It’s currently too early to see if updates to Windows 8 will be enough to satisfy consumers and convince them to upgrade again.
Online division losses increase
At least one analyst has suggested that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) should sell its Bing search engine because of the losses associated with it. Those losses increased from $262 million in the last quarter to $372 million in the June quarter. In fiscal 2013, the online division lost $1.3 billion.
Reorganization or distraction?
And finally, Gillis thinks the reorganization plans will be more of a distraction for the rest of this year rather than a positive. Other analysts have said the reorganization is a long term positive, but in addition to the possibility that it might distract employees, he said it “reduces the chance that the company unlocks value by breaking up.”
Of course what he doesn’t mention is that breaking up isn’t the only way Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) could unlock value. The activist investment firm ValueAct has been in talks with the company to secure a board seat, so we’ll just have to see where things go from there.