Peter Klein, an 11-year Microsoft veteran, is the latest in a line of top-level executives to leave the company, following Windows head Steven Sinofsky last November. Photo: Reuters
Microsoft chief financial officer Peter Klein is leaving at the end of June after three and a half years in the post, as the world's biggest software company struggles with sharply declining personal computer sales and a lukewarm reception for the new Windows 8 operating system.
Klein, an 11-year Microsoft veteran, is the latest in a line of top-level executives to leave the company, following Windows head Steven Sinofsky last November. Some have questioned whether chief executive Steve Ballmer is still the right leader for Microsoft, whose shares have remained essentially flat for the last decade.
Microsoft shares rose 1.5 per cent in after-hours trading.
"The CFO departure is a little bit troubling," said Brendan Barnicle, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities. "We've had a lot of executives leaving Microsoft recently. This also makes a departure by Steve Ballmer less likely. It would be very unusual to have a CEO leave soon after a CFO departure."
Microsoft shares rose 1.5 per cent in after-hours trading after the company posted an 18 per cent climb in revenue and earnings well ahead of Wall Street expectations - a seemingly strong performance for a quarter with the worst decline in PC sales on record.
But excluding revenue "deferred" from previous quarters, the flagship Windows unit showed zero growth, disappointing investors hoping for a stronger showing from the new Windows 8 system.
But industry analysts have since noted that the unfamiliarity of the 'tile'-based interface and the paucity of competitive-priced gadgets turned off consumers.
This week, Intel forecast its current-quarter revenue would decline as much as 8 percent as personal computer sales continue to slide in favour of tablets and smartphones, though it expects sales in general to improve in the second half as more polished ultra-thin laptops and other tablet devices based on Windows hit the market.
Microsoft reported a profit of $US6 billion, or 72 cents per share, in the fiscal third quarter, up from $US5.1 billion, or 60 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.
That beat Wall Street's average estimate of 68 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. But analysts have been pegging back profit forecasts for Microsoft in the light of flagging PC sales.
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