Microsoft Stock Stumbles, But Don't Count It Out

  • Share
  • Read Later
Don't panic. That's TIME Digital editor Josh Quittner's advice to Microsoft investors Monday, as the stock price fell 5 percent in the first hour of trading following last Friday's antitrust case setback. (It later recovered to 89.93, and finished down just 1.8 percent on the day.) "Microsoft is the same company it ever was — one of the greatest concentrations of brainpower on the planet," says Quittner. "That's not going to change, and the company shouldn't be worth any less Monday than it was on Friday. Moreover, most investors had good reason to expect this ruling." Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's finding of fact, which strongly suggested he would find the company in breach of antitrust legislation, will likely spur Bill Gates to cut a deal. "Microsoft has to settle really quickly," says Quittner, "because a company of this size and importance can't afford to pin all of its hopes on the outcome of an appeal."

The two sides are plainly feeling their way to a settlement, with Gates emphasizing in a message to customers, partners and shareholders Friday that "Microsoft is committed to resolving this matter in a fair and responsible manner," while Justice Department point man Joel Klein emphasized that the government was weighing up a wide range of remedies but was not seeking financial penalties. "A remedy that keeps Microsoft competitive and doesn't debilitate it will be a good thing for consumers," says Quittner. "More choice is always a good thing." And Judge Jackson's first dividend for consumers may be some bargain Microsoft stocks.