Microsoft Falls on Analyst Downgrades

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) fell 3 9/16 to 53 1/8Thursday following reports that analysts at Goldman Sachs and LehmanBrothers cut estimates for the software maker because of lower demand forcomputers.

Lehman reportedly cut its forecast for Microsoft’s 2001 earnings to US$1.88per share from $1.91, and reduced its revenue forecast for the year by $630million to $25.9 billion.

At Goldman Sachs, analysts also cut their 2001 earnings estimate forMicrosoft by three cents from $1.91 to $1.88, reports said.

Research firm IDC on Thursday predicted a fourth-quarterslowdown in U.S. consumer PC sales.

The report follows warnings in recent weeks from a slew of computer makers,including Gateway, Inc. (Nasdaq: GTW) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), thatquarterly results will be weaker than expected because of slower sales.Declining demand has led to price cuts, which further cut into revenue, thecompanies said.

On Friday, chipmaker Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) joined in, lowering itsfourth-quarter projections because of “recent large cancellations bycustomers worldwide.” The company said a “slowing worldwide economy” washurting demand for personal computers, meaning less demand for its products.

Motorola, Inc. is also being hit by a slowdown in demand for technology,saying its quarterly results will be below previous expectations, in partbecause of slower semiconductor demand.

According to IDC, personal computer sales in the U.S. will see year-over-year unit growth of 15.8percent this quarter, and growth of just 11 percent over the third quarterof 2000. Worldwide, PC sales will total about 40.15 million, up 16 percentfrom the year-earlier quarter and 19.8 percent ahead of the precedingquarter.

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