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Microsoft profit falls as PC sales sputter

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Microsoft Corp. (MSFT-Q) posted a small dip in quarterly profit as sales of personal computers lagged expectations and Apple Inc.'s iPad started to eat away at the fringes of its core market.

The world's largest software maker, which powers more than 90 percent of the world's computers, reported fiscal second-quarter profit of $6.63 billion US, or 77 cents per share. That compared with $6.66 billion US, or 74 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. The per share figure was higher due to a reduction in shares outstanding from last year.

Year-ago profit was boosted by a one-time deferral of revenue from the launch of its hot-selling Windows 7 operating system.

Wall Street was expecting 68 cents per share profit, according to Thomson Reuters.

Sales rose 5 percent to $19.95 billion US, helped by strong sales of its Kinect hands-free gaming system, handily beating analysts' average estimate of $19.15 billion.

Microsoft's shares are down about 3 percent over the past 12 months.

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