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Microsoft earnings preview: Forget the numbers, who's the next CEO?

Daily Ticker

When Microsoft (MSFT) releases its latest earnings report after today's market close, it will not be numbers that analysts and investors will be looking for but a name--the name of the person who will replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer.

There's no guarantee the tech giant will name Ballmer's successor today but it's possible. Kara Swisher, co-executive editor of Re/Code, reports that "major investors and other Wall Street sources" who have been in touch with Microsoft's board say it has already chosen a CEO and will soon reveal it.

Related: Is Microsoft a sinking ship without a captain?

Ballmer announced last August that he plans to leave the company within a year. Ford CEO Alan Mulally was rumored to be a top choice but he has said he's not interested.

David Garrity, principal of GVA Research, says his "odds-on favorite candidate is Satya Nadella, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group whose appointment would confirm Microsoft's intention to fully exploit its position as the number 2 in cloud computing after Amazon (AMZN).

Related: Next Microsoft CEO’s big challenge: Fix Windows

Other candidates that have been mentioned:
--Tony Bates, Microsoft's Executive Vice President for Business Development and Evangelism who is the former president of Skype, which Microsoft acquired in 2011.
--Stephen Elop, former Microsoft Office head who moved onto Nokia as CEO and is now executive vice president of Nokia's devices and services unit, which Microsoft has purchased.
--Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson, which has acquired Microsoft's Mediaroom unit.

Related: Ballmer’s Legacy at Microsoft: It’s Complicated, Says Santoli

Garrity tells The Daily Ticker in the video above that no matter who is chosen as Microsoft CEO the company will not lose focus on its "devices and services,” strategy which aims to have hardware, online services and apps working together seamlessly across different screens and gadgets. Microsoft announced the "one strategy, one Microsoft” initiative last July and Ballmer stressed it during his August announcement to leave within a year.

Garrity, who owns Microsoft shares, expects the company to report earnings for the quarter ending December 31, 2013 at $0.70 per share, down 8% from a year ago, with revenues of $23 billion, up 7% from a year ago. The average estimate among analysts is $0.68 a share and $23.7B in revenues.

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