The non-cash charge announced Monday could saddle Microsoft Corp. with a loss for its fiscal fourth quarter ending in June. Analysts polled by FactSet had predicted Microsoft would earn about $5.3 billion for the period. Microsoft is scheduled to release its latest quarterly results on July 19.
The software maker, which is based in Redmond, blamed the setback primarily on the disappointing performance of aQuantive. That's an online advertising service that Microsoft bought in 2007 for $6.3 billion. It was the most expensive acquisition in the company's 37-year history at the time, surpassed only by the $8.5 billion purchase of Skype last year.
The charge represents Microsoft's sobering acknowledgement that aQuantive didn't increase the company's online advertising revenue as much as management had anticipated.
Since it bought aQuantive, Microsoft's online division has reported losses totaling nearly $9 billion.
The disheartening performance comes at the same time that Internet search leader Google has expanding its online ad empire, despite Microsoft's attempts to lure away Web surfers and marketers.
Google's success has flowed, in part, from its $3.2 billion acquisition of DoubleClick, an online ad service that used to compete against aQuantive. Google last year earned $9.7 billion on nearly $38 billion in revenue, with most of the money coming from online ads.
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