Yahoo results won't affect Microsoft offer: Ballmer

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SKHIRAT, Morocco (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp MSFT.O will hold firm on its $43.2 billion offer for Yahoo Inc YHOO.O, regardless of whether Yahoo's quarterly results impress or disappoint investors, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Tuesday.

“We think we can accelerate our strategy by buying Yahoo and will pay what makes sense for our shareholders,” Ballmer said. “I wish Yahoo all the success with its results but it doesn’t affect the value of Yahoo to Microsoft.”

Ballmer, speaking at the launch of Microsoft’s Web portal for North Africa, MSN Maghreb, has set a Saturday deadline for Yahoo’s board to accept a deal with Microsoft or face a lower bid that it takes directly to Yahoo’s shareholders.

In its first-quarter results, due later on Tuesday, Yahoo is expected to show progress in stabilizing its Web media and advertising business after two years of decline. In Yahoo’s favor are low expectations from investors accustomed to seeing the company fall short in recent quarters.

Yahoo officials are expected to use the results to argue why Microsoft’s $31 a share cash-and-stock offer undervalues its growth potential and give the company ammunition in arguing for a higher price.

Microsoft has said its offer is “full and fair,” refusing to sweeten its bid since it has yet to see Yahoo raise a credible alternative.

On January 29 -- the day before Microsoft presented Yahoo’s board with an unsolicited takeover bid -- Yahoo warned it had a tough year ahead as it cut jobs and spent more to shore up its advertising business.

Projections for Yahoo profits range from between 6 cents to 13 cents per share. On average, Wall Street expects 9 cents, down from 10 cents a year earlier, according to Reuters Estimates.

Reporting by Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Derek Caney