If Microsoft does announce that it will raise a lot of debt, that news alone will likely send its shares lower. The market might figure it plans another high-ball offer for Yahoo! ( YHOO) or to take over Facebook at the $16 billion valuation Microsoft agreed to at their last round. How the market interprets the amount of debt Microsoft raises very much depends on how they will spend it. Microsoft has begun buying back stock in the last five years and currently has an open plan to buy back an additional $40 billion in stock between now and 2013. For years, several Microsoft investors have called on the company to buy back stock as a way of reducing the amount of cash inefficiently sitting on its books to its investors. Microsoft has obliged over the last five years, using about $100 billion in capital to pay shareholders dividends or buy back stock. Yet that strategy has led to total shareholder returns over that period of about -25%. To be fair to Microsoft, the simple strategy of dividending out cash to shareholders and buying back stock hasn't worked out for many companies over the last two years, as companies like Microsoft and Sears Holdings ( SHLD) have watched billions of dollars of their capital used to buy back stock at now-inflated prices. Continuing to just buy back more stock is not the answer for Microsoft's low stock price. The company needs to give its investors a strategy for how it is going to grow. Investors are currently pricing in the likelihood that Microsoft will essentially run itself like a utility for the next 20 years -- as well as spend money in areas like search or the Zune, which will never return the capital spent. They believe Microsoft's top line will stay flat.