Microsoft Investor Gives Users First-Time-Ever Access To Exclusive Financial Reports From Off the Record Research

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 17, 1997 — Microsoft® Investor ( today announced the availability of cutting-edge research reports from Off the Record (OTR) Research that have never before been available to noninstitutional investors. Until now, Off the Record Research reports were available only to financial institutions. Now, individual investors will have access to the marketplace insights that large financial institutions rely on and will be able to act accordingly.

Microsoft Investor users will be the first in the retail investment community to know who the retail winners and losers are this holiday season. The exclusive series, titled “Straight From the Street,” will include behind-the-scenes reports on everything from consumer electronics to teen apparel. The OTR research will be available only on Microsoft Investor from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23.

OTR’s journalists talk to the people in the trenches – buyers, distributors, store managers and competitors – and in so doing, provide OTR with exclusive investment insights on such issues as pricing, sales, market share shifts, and external factors that can affect companies and industries. Here are a few examples of what Investor subscribers can expect to read about in “Straight From the Street”:

  • When the athletic shoe market exploded, Nike Inc. skyrocketed to phenomenon status. But last December, despite reports of continued strong sales for the industry’s No. 1 player, store managers and buyers warned OTR that Nike’s game could be falling off. Within a few months, the company was talking to analysts about slowing sales growth. Since February, Nike’s stock has lost more than 30 percent.

  • For years, Wall Street thought IBM Corp.’s mainframe business was dead. In early 1996, technology managers at major corporations told OTR that mainframes were making a comeback, with IBM leading the charge. OTR was the first to publish this news, and since then IBM’s stock has more than doubled.

  • In October, travel agents informed OTR that Carnival Cruise Lines’ high-growth rate should continue or even increase as more people take advantage of new, state-of-the-art cruise ships. OTR believes that this information has yet to play out fully in the stock market.

“This is quite an opportunity for investors,” said Lewis Levin, vice president of the desktop finance division at Microsoft. “For the first time, individual investors will have exclusive access to timely holiday reports on the latest shopping trends. This is exactly the type of value we are committed to delivering to our users – information that helps them make smart investing decisions.”

Last year’s OTR holiday season research, which focused on toys, general retail, personal computers and wireless phones, turned up positive information on Tyco Toys Inc. (for Tickle-Me-Elmo), Mattel Inc. (for Barbie), Nintendo of America Inc. (for the Nintendo 64 video game), Compaq Computer Corp. and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (for PCs), and Motorola Inc. (for digital mobile phones).

“The Internet is accelerating the pace at which individual investors can receive information and is truly beginning to rival the information available to professional money managers,” said Craig Gordon, founder of Off the Record Research, now the research division of OTA Limited Partnership. “With Microsoft Investor, our research is delivered in a fast, seamless and compelling manner by a team committed to fulfilling the potential of investing on the Internet.”

Investor will be offering the OTR reports as part of its premium service, but anyone with Internet access can read these reports free of charge as Investor continues to offer a 30-day trial of its premium service.* To sign up for the free trial, visit ( .

About Off the Record

Based in San Francisco, OTR provides marketplace research insights on a variety of industries to a select group of institutional investment firms in the United States and Europe. OTR is organized along the lines of a news service, with more than 40 full-time and part-time journalists around the world, an extensive research library, and a database of the thousands of marketplace experts who have been contracted since OTR was founded in 1995. After only two and a half years of operation, the company operates an international reporter and source network that rivals that of many commercial news-gathering organizations.

About Microsoft Investor

Microsoft Investor is an Internet resource created to help users easily track their investments and make investment decisions. Designed for both the novice and experienced investor, Microsoft Investor is a free, Web-based service, providing personal investors with portfolio tracking, original editorial content, business news, stock quotes, historical data and access to online trading (connect-time charges may apply). In addition to its broad range of free services, Microsoft Investor now offers unlimited access to its valuable premium service for a monthly charge of $9.95 (members of MSN
, The Microsoft Network pay only $6.95). Microsoft Investor was rated the No. 1 Web site for financial information and investing on the Web by the editors at Barron’s Magazine and was selected the best all-around fee-based financial site by Money Magazine.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

* Note: This offer is valid only for new subscribers to Microsoft Investor who are residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia or Canada. You will need to input your credit card, but Microsoft Investor will not charge your card. At the end of 30 days, your account will automatically be canceled. You may choose to resubscribe at that time. Connect-time charges may apply.

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