P.M. BRIEFING : Stock Falls on Microsoft Prediction

From Times wire services

Microsoft Corp., a longtime Wall Street software industry favorite, said today it expects lower profit in the current quarter and the announcement caused its shares to tumble $7.75 to $54.75 in heavy early trading.

The Redmond, Wash.-based maker of personal computer software said its earnings would be “somewhat less” than the $37.3 million posted in the year-ago period because of a revenue shortfall.

Analysts said Microsoft’s disclosure may signal a period of trouble for a number of software companies as they make the transition to a new generation of personal computer products.