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POSTED: Friday, July 24, 2009

Soft PC sales sink Microsoft profit

SEATTLE » Microsoft Corp. said yesterday its profit in the last quarter plunged 29 percent because of weak computer sales, ending a fiscal year in which the software maker's revenue fell for the first time since the company went public in 1986.

Microsoft's revenue in the quarter was well short of analysts' expectations, and its shares skated down $2, or 7.8 percent, to $23.56 in after-hours trading. Before the earnings report the stock had gained 3.1 percent to close at $25.56.

The results reflect how Microsoft's fortunes are tied to the PC industry, which is expected to sell fewer computers this year than last—the first such decline since 2001. Many buyers are holding onto their existing machines for longer than usual to save money in the recession. Among consumers, the hottest segment of the PC market is in low-cost “;netbooks,”; which run Windows XP—a lower-profit product for Microsoft.

Microsoft's earnings in the last quarter, which ended June 30, sank to $3.05 billion, or 34 cents a share. In the same period last year, it earned $4.3 billion, 46 cents a share. Revenue dropped 17 percent to $13.1 billion.

Amazon earnings hurt by settlement

SAN FRANCISCO » Amazon.com Inc. said yesterday that its second-quarter earnings fell while sales rose, as the leading online retailer recorded a $51 million payment to settle a long-standing dispute with former partner Toys R Us.

The revenue increase was not enough to placate analysts, who were expecting even more than Amazon delivered. Shares of Seattle-based Amazon fell nearly 7 percent in extended trading after the results were released.

Amazon earned $142 million, or 32 cents a share, in the quarter, 10 percent lower than the profit of $158 million, or 37 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a penny less per share.

Sales climbed nearly 15 percent to $4.65 billion, slightly below analyst estimates of $4.69 billion. Amazon's sales were helped last year by a $53 million noncash gain from the sale of European DVD rental assets.

Starwood net up on cuts, tax benefit

CHICAGO » Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., which manages 7,739 rooms in 11 hotels in Hawaii under several of its brands, posted a disappointing decrease in per-room revenue for the second quarter.

The hotel chain had net income of $134 million, up 28 percent from a year ago. Starwood benefited from a $90 million gain from an Italian tax-incentive program and reduced its selling, general, administrative and other expenses about 30 percent during the quarter. Revenue slid 23 percent to $1.21 billion. Worldwide revPAR for hotels open more than a year slid 27.7 percent.

IRS offices moving into Alii Place

The U.S. General Services Administration has signed a 10-year lease to house some Internal Revenue Service offices in Alii Place on Alakea Street.

The IRS will lease the entire 12th floor and part of the 22nd floor for a total of 36,223 square feet.

The lease brings Alii Place to 94 percent occupancy, according to the building owner, San Francisco-based Bristol Group Inc.

On the move

» Bella Pietra, a natural stone company, has promoted Jamie Hammond to accounting clerk from receptionist. Her experience includes administrative assistant at Swalling Construction in Anchorage, Alaska.

» Philip Richardson has been named president of Meeting Professionals International Aloha Chapter. He is currently president of Current Affairs and has more than 35 years of applied event production and related management experience.

» The American Business Women's Association, Na Kilohana O Wahine Chapter, has awarded the 2009 Woman of the Year to Myrtle Ching-Rappa, director of the Center for Career Development and Student Employment at University of Hawaii.