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Why I’m Shorting Microsoft (MSFT)

The classic tech behemoth, Microsoft, has both a consumer and business customers. Most of us are familiar with its consumer side, though its business side is actually which brings in most of its revenues. Most of my knowledge is about Microsoft’s consumer side, whose prospects are looking increasingly atrocious in my opinion.

On the consumer side, Microsoft makes money from its desktop applications (such as Microsoft Office) as well as its search engine portal, msn.com. The price it charges for its desktop applications is currently exorbitant. To get a full Microsoft Office suite, you are staring at a $400 price tag currently. Microsoft used to be able to get away with this since everyone had to have Microsoft Office, Word and Excel were the norm

Now, however, there are increasingly viable, cheap alternatives. Google docs, its free online service, is almost identical to Word/Excel, except you don’t have to pay a dime. Also, since it is saved online, there is no worries that your computer may crash. You can also access these documents from any computer, as well as easily collaborate on them with other people. In the past, I did all of the accounting for my businesses on Excel. Now, I use Google Docs because it is both free and superior in my opinion.

In addition to Google Docs, the increasing use of Macs should be cause of concern for Microsoft. Right now, Apple is the “hot” brand and people can’t get enough of these types of computers. No Mac user in his right mind will shell out $300+ for Microsoft Office for Mac, when he can get Apple’s version for about $89.

I also don’t see Microsoft expanding its online presence anytime soon. Few people use the msn.com search engine, and it’s likely not going to attract anymore users anytime soon. There’s simply no reason to, as Google is still the superior search engine. Its portal, msn.com, is also vulnerable if Google starts a portal site similar to it. Google is already moving into the portal space, with the launch of its beta finance site (finance.google.com), as well as the success of Gmail.

In my opinion, Microsoft’s failed attempt at buying Yahoo is a sign that the company has run out of ideas and is desperate to remain a player in the consumer sphere. Microsoft’s products are no longer cutting edge; the main reason people use them is simply because they have been using them in the past. With Google and the increasing competition from Apple, Microsoft is increasingly on the defensive, and I expect its stock price to take a hit over the next couple of years.

Disclosure: Author is short Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO) and long Google (GOOG).

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