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Microsoft Expected To Post 77% Earnings Gain In Second Quarter

Analysts believe Microsoft will blow past last year's numbers on the strength of sales of Windows Vista, Office 2007, and Halo 3.
With a full year of Windows Vista under its belt and holiday sales of Halo 3 in the books, Microsoft should post strong results when it reports fiscal second quarter earnings later this month.

Microsoft disclosed Wednesday that it will issue the report on Jan. 24 after the close of Wall Street trading.

Analysts expect the software maker to post per-share earnings for the period of 46 cents on revenue of $15.9 billion, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.

By comparison, Microsoft a year ago reported second quarter earnings per share of 26 cents on revenue of $12.5 billion. Earnings for that period were offset by the company's deferral of $1.64 billion in revenue to the third quarter to account for a Windows Vista upgrade program.

Analysts believe Microsoft will blow past those numbers in this year's second quarter on the strength of sales of Vista, Office 2007, and Halo 3 -- all of which debuted last calendar year.

Vista and Office 2007 were released last January. Halo 3, a first-person shooter for the Xbox 360, smashed a number of industry sales records after hitting stores in September.

Microsoft's second quarter numbers also should provide some insight into whether the company's efforts to boost its presence in the digital advertising market are paying off. The report will reflect the first full quarter in which online agency aQuantive -- acquired by Microsoft in August for $6 billion -- has been part of the company's operations.

For the full fiscal year ending in June, analysts predict Microsoft will report earnings of $1.81 on $59.35 billion in sales.