Stocks to Watch: Microsoft, AT&T, Starbucks, P&G

NEW YORK -- Microsoft ( MSFT) received a boost in its fiscal second quarter from its server & tools division and Windows 8 licenses, helping it post earnings that topped Wall Street expectations.

The software giant earned 76 cents a share on a GAAP basis during the quarter on revenue of $21.46 billion. Analysts were expecting profit of 75 cents a share on revenue of $21.5 billion.

The company's Windows division saw quarterly sales jump 24% year over year to $5.88 billion, thanks to Windows 8. Microsoft has sold over 60 million Windows 8 licenses to date. The server & tools business saw a 9% year-over-year increase in sales to $5.19 billion.

Microsoft Falls On Mixed Results

AT&T ( T) posted a narrower loss in the fourth quarter as Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone helped generate record smartphone sales.

The telecom gant posted a loss of 68 cents a share, or $3.9 billion, compared with a loss of $1.12 a share, or $6.7 billion, a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings in the quarter were 44 cents a share, up from 40 cents a year earlier. Analysts were looking for earnings of 46 cents a share.

AT&T posted revenue of $32.6 billion, an increase of 0.2% and above analysts' forecasts of $32.22 billion.

The company's total wireless revenue, which includes equipment sales, rose 5.7% to $17.6 billion. AT&T added 1.1 million wireless subscribers during the quarter, bringing the total to 107 million. This included 780,000 postpaid net adds, AT&T's biggest gain in 12 quarters.

AT&T sold a record 10.2 million smartphones and activated a record 8.6 million iPhones. AT&T also had its best-ever sales quarter for Android phones, but confirmed that record smartphone sales hurt margins. Fourth-quarter wireless operating income margin was 14.5%, down from 15.5% a year earlier.

In 2013, AT&T expects revenue growth to exceed 2% and to deliver earnings per share growth in the upper-single digits or higher.

AT&T Narrows Loss as Smartphones Fly Out the Door

Starbucks ( SBUX), the coffee chain, said Thursday that fiscal first-quarter profit rose 13%.

Starbucks said global same-store sales in the quarter rose 6%.

Starbucks earned $432.2 million, or 57 cents a share, in the quarter, up from $382.1 million, or 50 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Total revenue rose 11% to $3.8 billion.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 57 cents a share on revenue of $3.85 billion.

The company affirmed its outlook for the year, with earnings expected to be between about $2.10 and $2.15 a share, which represents growth of 15% to 20% from the previous year.

Procter & Gamble ( PG) is expected by Wall Street Friday to post fiscal second-quarter earnings of $1.11 a share on revenue of $21.91 billion.

P&G May Be Less of a Gamble Than You Think

Honeywell ( HON) is expected by analysts to report fourth-quarter earnings Friday of $1.09 a share on revenue of $9.51 billion.

Cisco ( CSCO) reached an agreement to sell its home networking business unit, including the Linksys router brand, to privately held Belkin, a maker of smartphone cases and computing accessories.

A purchase price for the deal, which is expected to close in March, wasn't disclosed.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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