Microsoft's Stock Leads Dow Losers After Downbeat Outlook

By Tomi Kilgore Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Shares of Microsoft Corp. slumped 1.3% in morning trade Thursday, enough to pace the decliners within the Dow Jones Industrial Average , after the technology giant provided some downbeat margin guidance at its analyst briefing. Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said at the Microsoft Build 2017 gathering late Wednesday that gross margin is expected to decline "a little bit" in fiscal 2018, even if structural improvement in every segment increases, as a results of hardware launches. RBC Capital analyst Ross MacMillan said Microsoft's comments on gross margins and other expenditures suggest earnings per share and free cash flow will come down, but he reminded investors that the company's guidance has "traditionally been conservative." Analyst Brad Reback at Stifel Nicolaus said the fact that Microsoft didn't quantify how much it expects operating expenditures to grow in fiscal 2018 "may leave some investors disappointed." The stock, which closed at a record $69.41 on May 1, has rallied 10% year to date, while the SPDR Technology Select Select ETF has climbed 14% and the Dow has gained 5.9%.

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