Report: New Microsoft (MSFT) CEO by Year's End

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Microsoft (MSFT) hopes to have appointed a CEO to replace Steve Ballmer by the end of 2013, reports Bloomberg. The tech giant is currently evaluating and shortlisting candidates.

Those who have reportedly made the cut include Ford (F) CEO Alan Mulally, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and previous Microsoft executive Paul Maritz. Candidates who have asked to be omitted from the search include eBay (EBAY) CEO John Donahoe.

The next CEO will be the third person at the helm since Microsoft's inception in 1975, following in the footsteps of co-founder Bill Gates and Ballmer.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on the reports.

In pre-market trading, Microsoft shares have gained 0.54% to $33.25, after closing Wednesday at $33.07.

TheStreet Ratings team rates Microsoft as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate Microsoft Corp (MSFT) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, attractive valuation levels and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • MSFT's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 5.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 10.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • MSFT's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.20 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 2.53, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Software industry and the overall market, Microsoft Corp's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.

Written by Keris Alison Lahiff.

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