(Reuters) - Microsoft Corp (MSFT) said on Thursday fiscal third-quarter profit fell slightly as sales of personal computers continued to slide, hurting its consumer business, but it still managed to beat Wall Street's pessimistic forecasts.
The world's largest software company reported quarterly profit of $5.66 billion, or 68 cents per share, compared with $6.05 billion, or 72 cents, in the year-ago quarter.
The decline was exaggerated by deferred revenues boosting the year-ago figure, and the latest quarter's profit beat Wall Street's average estimate of 63 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales fell 0.4 percent to $20.4 billion, meeting analysts' average estimate.
"We would characterize these results as solid in a choppy IT spending environment," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. "The company benefited from less PC headwinds in the quarter, which helped the overall bread and butter Windows business and contributed to a good top-line performance."
Personal computer sales fell by as much as 4.4 percent in the quarter, according to the two major technology research firms, making the eighth straight quarter of declines as tablets and smartphones gain in popularity.