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Microsoft Shareholders Unhappy After Annual Meeting 521

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the 15-minutes-should-be-enough-for-anyone dept.
Kozar_The_Malignant writes "Microsoft shareholders left today's annual meeting grumbling about the 15 minute Q&A period with Bill Gates and Steve Balmer and the lack of any real specifics about corporate direction. Many shareholders are concerned about Microsoft's static share price over the last decade."
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Microsoft Shareholders Unhappy After Annual Meeting

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  • by ThisIsNotMyHandel (1013943) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:09PM (#38068562)
    Simple solution to a simple problem. SELL THE STOCK.
    • by fsckmnky (2505008) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:29PM (#38068746)
      Many people fail to execute the simple solution, as it might require them to admit they were wrong to buy it in the first place. It's a well known psychological shortfall who's proper term I can't recall atm. Like anti-buyers-remorse.
      • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @10:00PM (#38069134)

        Would the term you're thinking of happen to be the sunk cost fallacy [wikipedia.org]?

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @11:13PM (#38069732) Homepage Journal

        Many people fail to execute the simple solution, as it might require them to admit they were wrong to buy it in the first place.

        Actually, the reason they fail to execute the solution is because they're getting a nice dividend, strong stock price and a fair amount of peace of mind.

        The people who are pissed off about the lack of constantly increasing stock price are the big institutional investors who want to play the volatility game, betting the options on both sides. Hedge funds and like that.

        Most of the normal people who invested in Microsoft are not complaining because, although they're not getting huge capital gains, a nice check comes from Microsoft every quarter in dividends. Plus, there has been steady growth.

        So, if you're looking for a little stable income, Microsoft a decade ago was a good way to go. Apple had more volatility, it jumped further, but when it comes to paying dividends, they've given the finger to their investors, choosing to put their enormous profits into a "war chest" instead of rewarding the people who have stuck with them. Those cocksuckers have $76billion in cash and can't pay a dividend. Assholes.

        Full disclosure: I own both Apple and Microsoft stock. I sell Apple on the highs, and it's paid for a big chunk of my daughter's education. The Microsoft I keep, up or down, and those dividend checks continue to pay the real estate taxes on my Chi-town Vatican. Year after year after year. And when the day comes that my wife decides it's time to move to Montenegro and grow figs and look at the Adriatic, we'll sell off the Microsoft and it will have held up its end of the bargain very nicely. All of the Apple I bought will be gone long before then because the only way to make money with Apple is by selling the highs.

        Yeah, I like to look at the Apple stock price, especially after a new iPhone is announced and all the fruits race down to stand in line at the Apple Store because I like to time the sale of some shares immediately thereafte. Then, when the inevitable battery issues or reception issues start to hit the news, I'll think about adding a few shares, but never as many as I sold because the price is too damn high. But the Microsoft, I don't even look at the price, I just dollar cost average some shares every quarter, comfortable knowing it's piling up and bringing me steady income.

        To be honest, it was only sheer luck that this all worked out for me. I don't know fuck-all about investing. I just liked the products and when I got my first real job, a single guy, I bought shares.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Many people fail to execute the simple solution, as it might require them to admit they were wrong to buy it in the first place. It's a well known psychological shortfall who's proper term I can't recall atm. Like anti-buyers-remorse.

        It's called Buyers Remorse, much the same as when a normal person becomes an Apple fanboy because they cant admit that their purchase did not meet their imagination so they need to attack anyone who disagrees with them and create an imaginary world around their purchase. Also Choice Supportive Bias.

        But this isn't about Buyers Remorse. Most people buy blue chip stocks like MSFT for the long term. Not only are they supposed to grow in value (gradually year after year) but provide dividends each year. So MS

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Because it's impossible for someone to think that a stock while not as good as it could be is still a good investment?

      And it's all or nothing right? Sell all your stock because you disagree with some things the company does and ignore the things you like.

  • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:10PM (#38068570)

    http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=MSFT+Interactive#symbol=MSFT;range=my [yahoo.com]

    Just look at that chart. Look at it, guys. It's been down and flat since 2000. Yes, that chart is split-adjusted. All Y! stock charts are split adjusted. If you want growth, Microsoft is not where you want to be.

    And the outlook is not encouraging. Just look at Windows 8.

    --
    BMO

    • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:15PM (#38068614)

      Haven't there been some pretty fat dividends on occasion? I really wish the Y! charts would include an option to represent present value of a DRIP [fool.com] investment at the beginning of the period.

      • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:40PM (#38068894)
        It has a 3% yield, which isn't exactly stellar. You can probably get that from a fixed-rate vehicle with no exposure to Microsoft's dwindling relevance.
      • by Bill Dimm (463823) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @10:25PM (#38069366) Homepage

        I really wish the Y! charts would include an option to represent present value of a DRIP [fool.com] investment at the beginning of the period.

        I've been complaining to Yahoo about that for years. It's especially bad for mutual funds since they are required to make (potentially substantial) distributions each year. For example [yahoo.com], note the sharp drops in December 2006 and December 2007 -- they have no economic significance (fund price drops by $X and shareholder receives $X in cash), but they mangle the graph and make it really hard to compare funds.

      • Haven't there been some pretty fat dividends on occasion?

        Yes, and when they do the stock immediately falls by the proportionate amount. But IBM pays higher dividends plus goes, up, up, up. Anybody who has held Microsoft instead is just plain gullible.

    • by Antony T Curtis (89990) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:20PM (#38068668) Homepage Journal

      It's more telling when you add GOOG and AAPL to the same graph...

      Over the last 10 years, MSFT is near 0% growth, GOOG is a little under 500% growth.... AAPL is around 4000% growth.

      That makes MSFT a poor long-term investment choice.

      • by russotto (537200) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:30PM (#38068768) Journal

        Over the last 10 years, MSFT is near 0% growth, GOOG is a little under 500% growth.... AAPL is around 4000% growth.

        That makes MSFT a poor long-term investment choice.

        Except that, as the disclaimer says, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Not that I'm buying any MSFT.

        An oldie but goodie: The Ballmer Stagnation [zdnet.com]

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by inviolet (797804)

          An oldie but goodie: The Ballmer Stagnation [zdnet.com]

          Not only does that chart use an irregular Y axis that makes Gates' performance seem more steady and reliable than it actually was...

          ...but it doesn't bother to mention the dot-com bubble popping in ~2000. The fact that Ballmer kept their stock price up, while everyone else was losing theirs, is no small feat.

          Please don't post any more dishonest crap from zdnet. I passionately distrust and loathe Microsoft, especially now that the B&N revelations are out. There is so much to hate about them, we don'

          • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @12:54AM (#38070382)

            That's what we call a log scale, and it's the appropriate way to represent things like this. To an investor, the stock going from $5 to $10 is the same as it going from $100 to $200. A log scale shows that as the same increment. A linear scale doesn't.

            Sure, give Ballmer some kudos for keeping the stock price from dropping TOO much after 2000 (it did drop). Are you using the bubble popping excuse for the whole ten years since then?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PCM2 (4486)

        MSFT is a poor choice just because other companies have performed better? That's a little rash. There are plenty of other companies that have performed a lot worse, and holding a diversified portfolio is always a good idea. (You may remember a time when AAPL's chart was not so stellar.) Also, as other people have noted, MSFT pays dividends, which may not be "growth" but are definitely returns on the investment. Neither GOOG nor AAPL pays dividends -- in fact, both seem quite adamant about not paying them --

        • by oakgrove (845019)
          Whether a stock pays dividends or not doesn't mean much in the big picture. The only thing that matters is return on investment. I don't care if that comes in the form of dividends or stock price or food stamp vouchers and in that race, MSFT is a loser.
      • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:49PM (#38069002)

        Microsoft has payed out nearly its full stock price in dividends during that time. Its also got a better P&E.

        That makes it a *great* long-term investment choice. But a big swath of investors that came up during the dot-com boom don't seem to really understand what long-term investment means.

        Its *not* a good stock to try getting short term gains, and its not a good stock for growth. But like a lot of the big blue chips, its a great place to sink cash for the long run.

      • by swalve (1980968)
        Wow, it's up 4000% now? Buy! Buy! Buy! What could possibly go wrong?
      • What's worse is that over the 10 year period, Microsoft not only trailed the famous high fliers, but MSFT trailed the NASDAQ composite and the S&P 500, even if dividends are included. Such traditional stock selection methods as monkeys or throwing darts would produce better results.
      • by DusterBar (881355) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @02:17AM (#38070814) Homepage
        While Microsoft stock is not going up, it is unclear why. The company has, over the last 10 years, over doubled revenue and almost tripled profit. And it did this in an environment where they held 80+% of their primary market. This requires innovation and growth into new markets since you can't grow much when you already have 80+%

        Looking at Apple, they have done well. Made products people want. Gained technology to product price competitive products. But the real point is that they were under 3% of the market and now are at 12% or so. Microsoft still is over 80% but the point is that growing by 9 basis points for Microsoft would be just over 10% but for apple it was 400% growth. In fact, there is no way Microsoft can grow more that 25% in their primary market as, well, that would put them at 100%, The growth potential is almost all in other markets and new technologies. Apple, on the other hand, has tons of room to grow into if they can take more market share. However, if you look at their actual financial data, it is the new markets that really pushed them forward over the last 10 years. They executed very well in identifying new opportunities and taking the risk to enter those markets at the right point.

        Microsoft is currently, I believe, undervalued. Microsoft does have some very bright people and some compelling products coming, And they continue to be stable too. Not that Apple is not in a major growth spurt, but they are also valued relatively highly compared to earnings.
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Just now they're "disgruntled"?

      I mean... what did they think? /. posters are disgruntled for ages already.

    • by amiga3D (567632) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:43PM (#38068944)

      The fact is that Microsoft is very profitable. They make money. Lots and lots of money. The problem is that they treat their investors and their customers like shit. It doesn't matter though, because they're microsoft. AT&T was just like this before they were broken up. They treated everyone like shit because they could and microsoft, the great monopoly of our day does the same. Monopolies don't have to act like other companies because.....they're monopolies.

    • by jbolden (176878) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @10:21PM (#38069340) Homepage

      Microsoft has tripled earning in the last decade, a long history of solid steady (though slowing) growth. The stock had lots of growth priced in and the stock has delivered growth. Growth is slowing. P/E of under 10, PEG .85, 3 P/S and P/B for a healthy growing company; 44% return on equity. The stock was priced for growth a decade ago and is now priced for value. And all this with a 3% dividend yield!

      That's a good stock.

      • Microsoft has tripled earning in the last decade, a long history of solid steady (though slowing) growth. The stock had lots of growth priced in and the stock has delivered growth. Growth is slowing. P/E of under 10, PEG .85, 3 P/S and P/B for a healthy growing company; 44% return on equity. The stock was priced for growth a decade ago and is now priced for value. And all this with a 3% dividend yield!

        That's a good stock.

        You buy it then :-)

    • by tsotha (720379) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @10:43PM (#38069522)

      If you want growth, Microsoft is not where you want to be.

      That's not what it means at all. It means if you wanted growth in 2000 Microsoft wasn't the place to be. The same may be true of Apple and Google today. That's likely the case, actually.

    • by farble1670 (803356) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @11:28PM (#38069866)

      according to this,

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems [wikipedia.org]

      windows has about 75% market share. the next highest is OSX at 7%. if nothing else, that's pretty massive potential.

  • Dividends? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:12PM (#38068584)

    Doesn't MSFT pay dividends? You can't just look at the chart of the stock price. The fair way to construct such a chart would be a graph of an investor's money assuming he reinvested the dividends.

  • by elbonia (2452474) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:13PM (#38068598)
    If Warren Buffet (81) can spend the day answering question for his shareholders, Balmer (55) should have no problem with doing at least 2-3 hours. The only possible reason is that Balmer and Gates knew they didn't have good answers which can be seen here,

    http://www.geekwire.com/2011/microsoft-shareholder-meeting [geekwire.com]

    I would have left too if those were the best answers I could come up with for those questions.

  • by qubezz (520511) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:14PM (#38068602)
    That makes Microsoft a blue-chip stock, like GM or IBM. They are not a bubble rally pump and dump stock. The ultimate value of a company is not what a wall street casino game of money chicken assigns to it, and listening to the gamblers is hardly the course that will find improvement.
    • by NonSequor (230139) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:34PM (#38068816) Journal

      That makes Microsoft a blue-chip stock, like GM or IBM. They are not a bubble rally pump and dump stock. The ultimate value of a company is not what a wall street casino game of money chicken assigns to it, and listening to the gamblers is hardly the course that will find improvement.

      A stock is supposed to deliver value to its shareholders by either paying dividends or appreciating in price. If a company doesn't pay a dividend and doesn't appreciate in price (through growth in projected earnings), then they're essentially just dicking around with shareholder money.

      Looking back at the past ten years, I would have to say that Microsoft has largely been dicking around with shareholder money. They've expanded into some new markets and failed to break into a number of others. They could have been paying a steady dividend instead. They've started paying a modest dividend now which may mean that they're starting to own up to the fact that they don't have any more huge growth prospects and admit that they might as well pay out some of the cash their earning.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Looking back at the past ten years I can see that Microsoft has been reliably increasing the dividend payouts to where it is around $0.65/share/year and will increase to $0.80/share/year in 2012. That seems like a reliable revenue generator for people interested in steady growth rather than playing the lottery.

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        As many other people have mentioned, Microsoft does pay a quarterly dividend, currently annualized at about 3 percent.

      • by Dhalka226 (559740)

        Good post.

        I mean, other than the part where Microsoft does pay a dividend--that has been increasing--and has done so for years. But other than that...

        Perhaps your looks back should involve slightly more on the factual side and slightly less on the "meh, it sounds right to me" side.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:16PM (#38068628)

    Static share price for the past decade, but:

    revenue:
    2000: 22.96 billion
    2011: 69.94 billion (ms ends their year on 6/30.. so this is 6/30/10 - 6/30/11)

    profits:
    2000: 9.42 billion
    2011: 23.15 billion

    Yep.. shareholders are stupid. Not Microsoft's fault they don't want to reward their success.

    2000 income announcement [microsoft.com]
    2011 income statement [yahoo.com]

  • Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by br00tus (528477) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:46PM (#38068976)

    In my mind, the last real Microsoft innovations that happened were in the year period between late 1995 and early 1996. That is when Windows 95 came out and Windows NT 4.0. Windows 95 had a lot of things going for it - it had Internet capability included, so people didn't have to go through a rigmarole with Hyperterminal to download Trumpet Winsock from somewhere via X-modem. It had a nice, Mac-like GUI. It was nice - they even had Mac-like touches, like hiring Brian Eno to do the sound for when the computer started, a launch campaign with a Rolling Stones sound etc. Insofar as NT 4.0 - it was the first Windows server which wasn't total garbage. I had to administer a NT 3.51 server for a while, to my chagrin. 4.0 wasn't great, but it wasn't complete garbage like previous efforts. NT 4.0 also introduced the Terminal Services Client, later called Remote Desktop.

    SQL Server began coming out before any of this. I don't really like Exchange Server or Outlook, but they came out in 1996 and 1997 respectively. What has Microsoft really come out with since then? They completely missed the boat on smartphones and tablets - they are less than 1% market share for both markets. I just finished reading Job's biography - he mentions that Microsoft had been working on tablets forever. He blames their focus on the stylus, and compatibility with the existing Microsoft monopoly, I mean framework, as the drawbacks to it. Microsoft just seems to be unable to anything new. They started by porting an existing product, BASIC. Then they ripped of CP/M - some say [wikipedia.org] in a straight pirate-like fashion. Then they rip off Apple's Mac interface (which Apple themselves ripped off from Xerox). Microsoft is great at copying others ideas and doing all the back end, support, marketing, licensing business stuff, they are not so great at inventing stuff. A then much smaller company like Apple was able to eat their lunch in the tablet and smartphone space. Google bought Android, and helped it grow to where it now owns smartphones, and is doing respectably on tablets, at least more respectably than Microsoft.

    Microsoft has just been resting on its monopoly and sitting on its laurels. They put out garbage that technicians hate to use, but are sometimes forced to. With Windows 95, I used to get a CD where I could reinstall Windows if I wanted. Then they started that horrible OEM recover CD, where you couldn't just fresh install Windows like you wanted to - like you can with a CD of Linux or FreeBSD or whatnot. I mean, they took a step backwards, to protect themselves from piracy - a concern people making Debian CD's have no concern about. Other people are out innovating, they are at work crippling your ability to do things you were able to do with previous installations of Windows.

    • by nomel (244635)

      >Then they started that horrible OEM recover CD

      These were offered to OEMs at discount because it's not a full license.

      See "How does a company qualify to become a direct Microsoft OEM? It seems that the larger companies currently have an unfair advantage compared with smaller OEMs." from their Licensing FAQ [microsoft.com].

    • by zlogic (892404)

      Microsoft was also productive in the early 2000-s. Windows 2000 was a great OS, making NT ready for the desktop, and a major step in finally fixing the constant bluescreens and crashes of the 9x line. Unlike Windows XP, 2000 had no activation crap and had everything needed for everyday tasks. XP just added desktop themes, entertainment apps and Windows Restore.
      Visual Studio .NET/2003 and the introduction of .NET were also major steps, this probably killed Borland because Borland couldn't create a competitiv

  • by Datamonstar (845886) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @10:09PM (#38069210)
    After all, those poor shareholders expected INFINITE GROWTH and the company failed to deliver. They should apologize.

    Seriously though, just like the first poster said they already have the answer: sell your stock. But the greedy fucks keep on looking for more. They should get what they deserve when people finally start to realize (probably right after 8 launches) that they shouldn't have to constantly pay for an OS upgrade and Microsoft's software division finally tanks like they already should have.
  • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @10:16PM (#38069290)

    Yield is 3 percent, being generous, and this is nothing when considering the growth of other companies in the same sector - I get modded down for pointing this out.

    Stock price is down and flat, especially considering other companies in the same sector. - I get modded down for pointing this out.

    There is no sign of this changing any time soon. Windows 8 is the biggest news, and it makes everyone who is not a fanboy yawn, at best - I get modded down for pointing this out.

    Yet none of the above is false. So much butthur at the truth. Don't blame me, guys, look at your god, Ballmer, the guy who is only there because of the amount of voting stock he owns. Welcome to the same doldrums that befell Apple in the 90s. Unless something serious happens, the best you can hope for is that the wind does not go completely out of the sails leaving Microsoft adrift in a Sargasso of status-quo or sinking from shipworm.

    Break up Microsoft. It needs it. The profit sucking divisions need to sink or swim on their own. The company also needs to make things that people actually want, rather than view Microsoft products as "necessary evils." Apple has been doing it the right way. Microsoft, not so much.

    --
    BMO

    • you are being modded down for saying stupid things like companies should be broken up because they are performing consistently, in a recession no less.

      could they have done better? sure, a few have. could they have done worse? yes, *many* have. i'd be really, really damn happy if my completely diversified, "low risk" 401k had at least held it's value thus far in the recession. i would be much better off if i was entirely invested in MSFT.

    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @12:16AM (#38070188)
      I've got a theory. Here's some of your last few modded down comments. They're all -1 flamebait. See if you can see why.

      You're stupid.
      I'm smarter than you.
      Deal with it.

      Oh look the years that the company was left to colored sugar-water salesmen and bean counters. Not the dynamic and growing company it is now.

      Yes, and if I had been born in an earlier decade, I could have bought IBM when there was a market of "four to five computers"

      Moron.

      Oh, look, a softie redefining words at whim.

      You're an idiot.

      Here, have another chart. This is growth.

      You should have bought AAPL, ya dummy.

      http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=MSFT&t=5y&l=off&z=l&q=l&c=aapl [yahoo.com]

      Of your last six comments, 2 are at +5, 3 are at -1, and one is at +2 (at the time of this writing). For what it's worth, I agree with every one of them.

  • by spectro (80839) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @10:56PM (#38069606) Homepage

    I might be wrong but expecting infinite growth in stock prices doesn't sound sustainable. The biggest scam Wall Street has pulled is making investors focus on stock prices instead of dividends.

    Focusing in dividends might be boring but they are a passive form of income, a good way to build wealth.

  • by Yuioup (452151) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @03:56AM (#38071140)

    This line says it all:

    "My granddaughters don't even know what Microsoft does."

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @09:36AM (#38072572) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft shareholders left today's annual meeting grumbling about the 15 minute Q&A period with Bill Gates and Steve Balmer

    That's understandable. if I had to listen to either of them for more than 30 seconds I'd chew my own toes off.

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