Microsoft rises as better-than-expected PC sales boost profit

REDMOND, Wash., Fri Apr 20, 2012 – Shares of Microsoft Corp rose 4 percent in premarket trading on Friday, after the world’s largest software maker reported a quarterly profit ahead of expectations on better-than-expected sales of personal computers.

The deluge of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, which has seen Apple Inc and Google Inc vie for top honors in the consumer electronics market, has left Microsoft trying to reinvent itself to compete in the changing landscape.

Thursday’s results boosted optimism in the company, which expects to launch a new tablet-friendly version of Windows, and at least four brokerages raised their price targets on the stock.

“The product launches should create a positive mix effect on gross margin as was the case in the previous two Windows launches,” Barclays analyst Raimo Lenschow said in a research note to clients.

Lenschow, who has an “equal weight” rating on Microsoft’s stock, raised his price target by $3 to $36.

The company’s shares, which closed at $31.01 on Thursday on the Nasdaq, rose to $32.12 in trading before the bell. The stock touched a 4-year high of $32.95 last month, but has declined 6 percent since.