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Hey Microsoft, Use Debt Sale for M&A

Microsoft management has given investors no reason to believe otherwise. We've heard little to excite us about the future growth of this company, more about its obsession with getting a deal done with Yahoo! and catching Google. That's not a corporate strategy.

The status quo isn't working at Microsoft. There needs to be a plan for growth at Microsoft, and it needs to involve acquisitions. The business press is littered with articles about how IBM, Oracle, and Cisco (CSCO - Get Report) will be using their strong balance sheets to pick off once-in-a-generation priced acquisitions in the next year -- yet Microsoft's name is never mentioned as another suitor. With its cash-generating ability and more capital from a debt offering, it should be in the mix.

To be successful in the long run, Microsoft needs people to green-light the best acquisitions and teams of people with the right skill sets to integrate them. Frankly, Microsoft hasn't shown it has either of those abilities. Microsoft investors don't need another expensive aQuantive deal or Facebook investment that smacks of desperation and has questionable long-term value for the company's shareholders. It needs to take a page out of IBM's and Oracle's playbook, though, and start doing deals to grow its top and bottom lines.

A big debt issuance, with a skilled acquisition team, and evidence of some exciting growth-related deals could suddenly show the market that this elephant can dance again.

At the time of publication, Jackson was long Microsoft.

Eric Jackson is founder and president of Ironfire Capital and the general partner and investment manager of Ironfire Capital US Fund LP and Ironfire Capital International Fund, Ltd.

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