CNBC Misreports Microsoft Guidance, Creaming Stock

Microsoft’s (MSFT) guidance change led CNBC into a state of confusion today.

Here is what happened:

At about 10:55, Jim Goldman breaks in with Breaking News that Microsoft had lowered its revenue guidance. MSFT, which had seen its PPS way up, gave back some of its gains, but, more significantly, the NASDAQ Composite turned negative.

It seemed to be a CNBC exclusive. No wire had heard that from the conference call.

CNBC’s Jim Goldman: 10/23/2009 10:55:24: >>… “Just another little nugget of news here. Microsoft, lowering, lowering its full year revenue guidance to a range of $26.2 to $26.5 billion. The original range was $26.7 to $26.9 billion. The company says that ongoing head winds on a macroeconomic bases are going to effect the company not too significantly. There’s also 100 million associated with its partnership with Yahoo! that the company isn’t counting for even though it has not yet received federal approval just yet. We’ll be back with more on the show coming up after the break.

The news moved the market significantly, and CNBC made hay about it, talking about how Jim’s report had affected the DOW and the NAZ, and they had a bunch of their reporters and anchors on it.

But it wasn’t true.

MSFT execs lowered their operating expense guidance – a good thing. Goldman broke back in with a “clarification,” giving the correct guidance. But, as Melissa Francis, his own anchor, even pointed out, it was a big difference, and MSFT and the NASDAQ both recovered.

It was a major error and it merited a full-blown correction, not a clarification. The good news is however, that despite CNBC botching the company’s release, the stock managed to gain $1.42, or 5.38% , to $28.02 in Naz trading.

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