Microsoft tops $1 trillion

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Microsoft Corp on April 24 briefly topped $1 trillion in value for the first time after executives predicted continued growth for its cloud computing business.

The Redmond, Washington-based company beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit and revenue, powered by an unexpected boost in Windows revenue and brisk growth in its cloud business which has reached tens of billions of dollars in sales.

 

Microsoft shares rose 4.4% to $130.54 in late trading after the forecast issued on a conference call with investors, pushing the company ahead of Apple Inc’s $980 billion market capitalization. The companies and Amazon.com Inc have taken turns in recent months to rank as the world’s most valuable US-listed company.

Microsoft’s stock has gained about 23% gain so far this year, after hitting a record high of $125.85 during regular trading hours.

Under Chief Executive Satya Nadella, the company has spent the past five years shifting from reliance on its once-dominant Windows operating system to selling cloud-based services.

Azure, Microsoft’s flagship cloud product, competes with market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide computing power to businesses.

Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood told investors that Microsoft expects to see growth in the fiscal fourth quarter in the business divisions in charge of Azure and Office 365, an online version of its longtime productivity software.

For the third quarter ended March 31, Azure’s growth slowed slightly to 73%, down from 76% in the second quarter. Mike Spencer, Microsoft’s head of investor relations, said the decline was roughly in line with the company’s estimate.

Christopher Eberle, a senior equity analyst with Nomura, said that with Azure, “one should assume a slower rate of growth as we move forward, simply due to the law of large numbers.” Still, Azure will bring in $13.5 billion in sales in fiscal 2019 with an overall growth rate of 75%, he estimated. “I can’t name another company of that scale growing at these rates.”

Microsoft tops tech rivals such as Amazon in market capitalization on some days despite having less revenue, partly because most of its sales go to businesses, which tend to be steadier customers than consumers. A growing proportion of Microsoft’s software sales are billed as recurring subscription purchases, which are more reliable than one-time purchases.

Microsoft’s earnings per share of $1.14 beat expectations of $1, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Windows licensing revenue from computer makers grew 9% year over year, beating expectations after a 5% decline in the previous quarter. Spencer said a shortage of Intel Corp processor chips for PCs that many analysts expected to last into this summer had been resolved earlier than expected, allowing PC makers to ship more machines.

Microsoft’s “commercial cloud” revenue – which includes business use of Azure, Office 365 and LinkedIn – was $9.6 billion this quarter, up 41% from the previous year but down slightly from the 48% growth rate the previous quarter.

Microsoft’s so-called “intelligent cloud” unit, which contains its Azure services, posted revenue of $9.65 billion, above Wall Street estimates of $9.28 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Microsoft’s Hood said that unit could reach $11.05 billion in revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter.

The “productivity and business process” unit that includes both Office as well as social network LinkedIn had $10.2 billion revenue versus expectations of $10.05 billion. Hood forecast up to $10.75 billion in revenue for the unit for the fourth quarter.

Microsoft’s latest results contained two weak spots.

Its gaming revenue was up only 5% versus 8% the quarter before, which Spencer attributed to less revenue from third-party game developers and the fact that many gamers are delaying purchases of Microsoft’s Xbox console because a new model is expected soon.

Sales of the company’s Surface hardware grew 21% versus 39% the quarter before, also because customers waited for updated hardware they expected to be released soon.

Total revenue rose 14% to $30.57 billion, beating analysts’ average estimate of $29.84 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net income rose to $8.81 billion, or $1.15 per share, from $7.42 billion, or 96 cents per share, a year earlier.

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Before filing papers, PM to hold ‘never before, never after’ show in Varanasi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a roadshow in his parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, on Thursday, a day before he is due to file his nomination papers for the Lok Sabha elections.

BJP president Amit Shah said, “The road show will begin from the Banaras Hindu University gate and will culminate at Dashashwamedh Ghat… At the ghat, Modi will participate in Ganga Arti.”

Another senior BJP leader said that this roadshow would be a “never before, never after” event.

Before filing his nomination papers at 11:30 am on April 26, PM Modi will visit the Baba Kaal Bhairav temple and offer prayers. He is also likely to offer prayers to Kashi Vishwanath temple before that.

National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders, including Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) politicians from Tamil Nadu will be present when PM Modi files his papers.

The Congress is yet to name its nominee for the seat.

Congress fields Ajay Rai from Varanasi, ends speculation on Priyanka

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The Congress on Thursday fielded Ajay Rai from Varanasi to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ending speculation on party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra fighting polls from the temple town in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress also fielded Madhusudan Tiwari from Gorakhpur against BJP’s actor-turned politician Ravi Kishan.

Speculation on Priyanka Gandhi making her political debut from Varanasi was fuelled after Congress president Rahul Gandhi, to a question on whether he planned to field his sister against PM Modi, said last week, “I will leave you in suspense. Suspense is not always a bad thing.”

The Congress fielded Ajay Rai against Modi in 2014 as well.

He finished third in the contest, after Modi and Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal.

 

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Blast heard in town east of Sri Lankan capital, no casualties

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A blast was heard on Thursday from vacant land behind the magistrates court in the town of Pugoda, 40 km (25 miles) east of the capital Colombo, police and local residents said.

There were no casualties, the police said.

Police said they were investigating the explosion, which came at a time of high tension in Sri Lanka following the Easter Sunday suicide bomber attacks on the island state that killed 359 people and wounded about 500.

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For ‘mahamilavat’ national security may not be an issue but for me it is: PM in Bihar

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that his government is committed to uprooting terrorism from the country and ensured that it will soon take substantial steps to destroy the terror factories set up near the borders.

He also slammed the Opposition for allegedly stating that terrorism is not an issue in India.

“National security may not be an issue for those who do ‘mahamilavat’ but in new India, it is a big issue. In our neighbourhood, several terror factories are running. This is the new India, we will enter terror factories,” he said while addressing a rally in Bihar’s Darbhanga.

“They keep questioning that why Modi talks about terrorism. They believe that it is not an issue. You (audience) tell me — are nationalism and terrorism, not the issues? The Opposition does not have the understanding that you all have. More than 350 people were killed in a terror attack in Sri Lanka. Is that not an issue?,” the Prime Minister questioned.

In a veiled attack at CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar who is contesting from Bihar’s Begusarai, the Prime Minister stated that “some people have a problem with Bharat mata ki Jai and Vande Mataram. “Should such people lose their deposits or not? These are the same people who complain when I talk about Bharat.”

PM Modi further hit out at Opposition for questioning the outcome of Balakot air strike and for crying foul over EVM malfunction.

“After the third phase of Lok Sabha polls got over, people seeking evidence of India’s airstrike, have vanished. Now, they are abusing Modi and the EVMs. These people are cut off from the grass root level and which is why they are unable to sense the mood the country,” he said.

He also criticised the Congress for not fulfilling the promise it made to poor in 2004 and said, ” Congress has expertise in doing scams. In the year 2004, the Congress promised in its manifesto that by 2009, every house of India will have electricity. Did they succeeded in fulfilling that?,” he said in Darbhanga.

In his concluding statement, the Prime Minister urged the people to cast vote in favour of the NDA candidates saying, “Your one vote can eliminate the terrorism, please support Chowkidar this Lok Sabha elections. Your votes will go to Modi and Modi is the only one which can end terrorism.”

The voting for Lok Sabha in Darbhanga constituency will take place on April 29.The key candidates for this Lok Sabha seat are Gopal Jee Thakur of BJP and Abdul Bari Siddiqui of RJD. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.

Supreme Court orders probe into ‘conspiracy’ against Chief Justice Gogoi

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The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed a former apex court judge, Justice A K Patnaik, to inquire into a lawyer alleging ‘conspiracy’ against the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi.

The top court also asked directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi Police to help in the probe.

The top court said Justice Patnaik would not go into the issue of sexual harassment charges against the CJI, which is being probed by an in-house committee of three judges.

Earlier in the day, lawyer Utsav Singh Bains, who has claimed that he was lured with money to frame Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in a sexual harassment case, handed an additional affidavit to the Supreme Court.

The affidavit was handed to the bench led by Justice Arun Mishra, comprising justices R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta.

In a first affidavit on Wednesday, Bains had claimed there was a larger conspiracy by “fixers” to frame the CJI.

On Thursday morning, the top court observed: “We are anguished with the way this institution is being treated… we will not survive if this will happen.”

The top court said there was a “systematic attack and systematic game to malign this institution”.

“Do rich and powerful people in the country think they can remote control Supreme Court,” the court asked.

It said four to five per cent lawyers were bringing a “bad name to this great institution”.

On a stronger note, the court said the day has come when “we rise and tell country’s rich and powerful that they can’t do it”. “The rich and powerful of this country are playing with fire and this must stop,” the apex court said on the lawyer’s claim of conspiracy against CJI.

Calling the charges “highly sensitive”, the court on Wednesday had met the chiefs of CBI, Intelligence Bureau and Delhi Police. The entire episode is “very disturbing” as it concerns the independence of the judiciary, the Bench observed.

The three-judge special bench said if fixers continue to work and manipulate the judiciary as claimed, neither this institution not any of them would survive.

The court had also made it clear that the process of verifying the authenticity of Bains’ claims would in no way hinder the in-house probe being conducted by a three-judge bench comprising justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Indira Banerjee.

Bains’ first affidavit had said “he was informed by reliable sources that certain fixers, who claim to be engaged in illegally managing judgements in exchange for cash are behind this plot as the Honourable CJI has taken decisive action to crack down on such fixers”.

The woman, who has brought the sexual harassment allegations against the CJI, is a 35-year-old dismissed Supreme Court staff. She expressed “fear and apprehensions” on Wednesday before the in-house committee, saying her character had been damaged even before the inquiry began.

‘Avengers: Endgame’ full movie leaked online

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Avengers: Endgame’ is one of the most anticipated movies of the year. The film is slated to release this week and there are reports doing the rounds on the Internet that the film has become the latest victim of piracy.

As per reports, the cam-print of the much-awaited film is leaked by a piracy website TamilRockers two days before its release.

“Avengers: Endgame” is the 22nd film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the latest after “Captain Marvel”, which released last month.

The film is based on how the surviving superheroes will take down the mad Titan Thanos. The film features stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd and Brie Larson, among others.

Recently, the makers arranged a World premiere Avengers: Endgame in Los Angeles and the pictures of the stars went viral on the Internet in no time.

Meanwhile, Marvel fans are finding themselves in a virtual queue to grab tickets for the highly anticipated superhero film “Avengers: Endgame”.

The rush for tickets for the film, which will show supervillain Thanos engaging in an epic battle with superheroes like Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, was anticipated. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is not just a movie, it’s an epic culmination of a decade-long journey which the fans have taken with us across 22 films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“The phenomenal interest shown by audiences across the country, is testament of how this is one of the most anticipated movies for the fans and we can’t wait for them to watch it,” said Bikram Duggal, Head – Studio Entertainment, Disney India.

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KCR sees ‘conspiracy’ by Naidu, Narayana in TS inter results fiasco

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TRS chief and Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao is learnt to have made sensational comments against TDP chief and AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu and his cabinet minister P Narayana, the owner of Narayana Group of Institutions, while reviewing the inter results fiasco with officials at Pragathi Bhavan on Wednesday.

KCR is believed to have expressed suspicion over the role of Naidu and Narayana in Inter results scam, to defame Telangana government headed by TRS.

KCR expressed doubts about Naidu and Narayana hatching a ‘conspiracy’ to bring disrepute to Telangana government with the help of “Andhra media”.

Officials informed KCR that the errors in Inter results was nothing new and it has been happening since decades, even in Undivided AP.

About 15,000 students apply for reverification and recounting of answer scrips after Inter results are out every year and their marks change after reverification.

But this time, though less than 10,000 students applied for reverification after results, it was blown out of proportion by media with a malafide intention to defame Telangana government and Telangana Inter Board, officials told KCR.

At this point, KCR reportedly said, “Andhra-owned corporate colleges in Telangana, who are resorting to irregularities in Inter exams by bribing  some of our corrupt officials in Inter Board, might be behind inter results fiasco. TDP minister Narayana owns hundreds of corporate colleges in Telangana. He is the minister in Naidu’s cabinet. Both might have hatched a conspiracy to defame Telangana government. They have Andhra media in Hyderabad to take up false propaganda against Telangana government. Andhra media’s excess is clearly visible in this issue. For the past one week, they are carrying a misinformation campaign on inter results.”

KCR reportedly told officials that he will inquire into ‘conspiracy theory’ after the dust settles down and will not spare the culprits, who have indulged in this conspiracy.

Maharshi Fourth Single: Best of The Lot

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Maharshi songs composed by Devi Sri Prasad have failed to live up to the humongous expectations on the film.

Choti Choti Baatein song was okay but the other two songs were very mediocre.

Devi Sri Prasad has finally arrived with the fourth single that was launched on Wednesday evening.

The song that goes Padara Padara Padara isn’t a regular commercial duet but a theme song that gives away the plot of Maharshi.

It is an energetic number with powerful lyrics penned by Shrimani and mesmerizing vocals of the veteran Shankar Mahadevan.

The song is reminiscent of DSP’s Aakasam Thaakena from Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana which is also a song with farming as its backdrop.

The fourth single may not be something that rocks the music charts but will surely click in the film with proper situation and striking visuals.

The final song from Maharshi will be launched just few days ahead of the pre release event that will be done on May 1.

 

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KCR orders re-verification for failed students

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Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao on Wednesday ordered free re-verification of answer sheets of all the intermediate students who failed in the examinations.

The decision came amid a row over the goof-ups by the Telangana Board of Intermediate Education (TIBE) in declaring results, which allegedly led to suicide of 10 students since last week and triggered protests by parents and opposition parties.

With two more students ending their lives and protests continuing on Wednesday, the Chief Minister reviewed the situation with senior officials.

In case of students who passed but prefer re-verification and re-counting, it would be done as per the prevailing norms and regulations, the Chief Minister said.

KCR, as the Chief Minister is popularly known, asked officials to expedite the re-verification and re-counting process and complete that as early as possible. It should be followed by advanced supplementary examinations to prevent loss of the academic year, he added.

Education Secretary B. Janardhan Reddy has been entrusted with the responsibility of competing the process. The Chief Minister also instructed officials to evolve a strategy for smooth conduct of examinations and evaluation.

Expressing shock over suicides of ‘few’ students who failed in the intermediate examination, he said it was ‘most unfortunate’. He appealed students not to resort to suicide as failing in intermediate examinations did not mean end of life.

According to a statement from the Chief Minister’s office, of the 9.74 lakh students who appeared for the intermediate examinations, 3.28 lakh failed. “Some students and their parents are of the opinion that during the process of addition of marks, mistakes took place resulting in less marks than expected and hence they failed,” it said.

KCR also asked officials to examine whether the responsibility of conducting examinations be entrusted to an autonomous body. “It has to be examined whether the responsibility of conducting examinations could be entrusted to an autonomous body. The best practices in other states and other countries are to be studied for implementing in our state,” he said.

“The government faces problems every time intermediate examinations and EAMCET are conducted. The government, students and their parents face trouble every time. This needs to be avoided,” KCR said.