| SEATTLE, April 24
SEATTLE, April 24 Microsoft Corp's new
chief executive on Thursday won rave reviews for his first
public encounter with Wall Street analysts who said he
communicated willingness to transform the world's largest
software company as it scrambles to catch up in the
Marking the first time in five years that a Microsoft chief
executive joined a quarterly earnings conference call, veteran
insider Satya Nadella, who took over the helm on Feb. 4, said
his first weeks in the new job were taken up with getting to
know the company afresh.
He said he is also dealing with the reality of the new tech
marketplace in which Microsoft has ceded its market dominance to
Apple Inc and Google Inc.
"It is important and valuable to see the company with the
fresh perspective, to get grounded both on our current realities
and future opportunities," said Nadella.
"What you can expect of Microsoft is courage in the face of
reality; we will approach our future with a challenger mindset;
we will be bold in our innovation."
Nadella was helped by a quarterly profit decline that wasn't
as bad as feared by many investors, and he got a generally
enthusiastic reception from analysts who have warmed to his
strategy based on mobile and cloud computing.
"He did a Picasso-like job creating more transparency for
Microsoft, as he embarks down this transformational path to the
cloud," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. "He
has created enormous goodwill for Microsoft with the street and
that speaks to optimism around shares since he took over the
Microsoft stock has crept up 19 percent since longtime Chief
Executive Officer Steve Ballmer announced his plan to retire
last August and is up 8 percent since Nadella took his place. It
was up a further 2.5 percent after-hours on Thursday.
Just by joining the call, Nadella marked a change of
approach at the software goliath. Ballmer rarely spoke on the
quarterly call, a symbol of his indifferent relationship with
Wall Street, which broadly blamed him for Microsoft's lackluster
stock growth for most of the last decade.
"It was a good performance," said Sid Parakh, an analyst at
fund firm McAdams Wright Ragen, who listened to Nadella's debut
call. "It shows that he has a vision, is well aware of the
competitive landscape and is thoroughly knowledgeable of the
capabilities within Microsoft."
Al Hilwa, an analyst at tech research firm IDC, said Nadella
did a good job establishing rapport: "It was interesting in that
if it wasn't for the welcoming greetings by the financial
analysts, it sounded like he has been doing it all his life."
Nadella, who has made three major public appearances since
taking over, expanded on his theory of focusing on mobile and
internet-centric computing, which he says is necessary in what
he calls the "mobile-first, cloud-first world".
To back that approach up, Nadella has already introduced
Microsoft's hugely popular Office software for Apple's iPad and
opted to give away Windows to makers of small-screen mobile
devices, moves which show Nadella wants Microsoft's services
widely available without being tethered to the Windows operating
He did not offer up any more concrete plans in the call on
Thursday and answered very broadly when asked if he was
strategically reviewing any parts of the company.
"We're all the time reviewing and one of the things that I
feel as a leadership team, we have really picked up the pace on
asking the hard questions," Nadella said. "I want to be
accountable to you all, to our customers, to our partners as a
team by executing on our plans."
(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)