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Software leader Microsoft
(MSFT) is poised to hit a soft patch in its sales and earnings growth starting with its fiscal third-quarter report. The Microsoft earnings news is due after the market close on Wednesday.XAnalysts expect Microsoft to earn $1 a share, up 5% year over year, on sales of $29.8 billion, up 11%, in the March quarter. If it hits those numbers, it would be the company's slowest earnings growth in five quarters and slowest sales growth in nine quarters.For the June quarter, Wall Street is modeling growth of 4% in earnings per share and 8% in sales.Microsoft stock is trading in record high territory after breaking out of a cup-with-handle base at a buy point of 108 on Feb. 15. It rose 1.4% to 125.44 on the stock market today. In intraday trading Tuesday, it notched an all-time high of 125.58.Microsoft Earnings Report: Azure Growth Key FocusMicrosoft's transition from licensed software to software-as-a-service has revitalized the storied tech firm, but it's running into difficult year-over-year comparisons. Its cloud computing offerings include Azure infrastructure services, Dynamics business software and Office 365 productivity software.On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that TD Bank Group (TD) will use Microsoft's Azure as the foundation of its cloud computing efforts. TD Bank will use Microsoft's technology to develop new banking experiences for its customers."Cloud growth, Azure especially, will be a key focus area for investors," Piper Jaffray analyst Alex Zukin said in a report Sunday. "Our checks suggest that Azure continues to benefit from share gains predicated on close relationships with large enterprises and a quickly-closing feature/functionality gap relative to Amazon (AMZN) Web Services."Zukin estimates that Microsoft's commercial cloud revenue grew 46% in the March quarter while Azure revenue grew 62%. Zukin rates Microsoft stock as overweight.Azure Strong In Retail, Health Care, Industrial MarketsRBC Capital Markets analyst Ross MacMillan also is upbeat on Azure."The volume of (contract) wins remains strong especially in verticals such as retail, health care and industrials," he said in a note to clients Sunday. MacMillan rates Microsoft stock as outperform with a price target of 130.Microsoft's Windows operating system business likely will be a drag on the company's March-quarter results, MacMillan said. Shipments of personal computers fell 3% year over year in the period, according to research firm IDC.Still Early Days For Azure Business GrowthLast Thursday, Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives reiterated his outperform rating on Microsoft stock and upped his price target to 150 from 140."We are bullish on Microsoft given our thesis that Azure's cloud momentum is still in its early days of playing out with the company's massive installed base," Ives said. Also, Office 365 growth in consumer and enterprise markets will provide a tailwind for at least the next 12 to 18 months, he said.Follow Patrick Seitz on Twitter at @IBD_PSeitz for more stories on consumer technology, software and semiconductor companies.YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:Q1 Earnings: See 16 Stocks Expecting 50% To 400% GrowthLooking For The Next Big Stock Market Winners? Start With These 3 StepsLeaderboard Rose 11% As The 2018 Market Sank. See How It's Beating The S&P 500 NowIBD Digital: Unlock IBD's Premium Stock Lists, Tools And Analysis TodayInvesting In Stocks: Should You Really Sell In May And Go Away?The post Microsoft Earnings Growth Seen Slowing In March, June Quarters appeared first on Investor's Business Daily. Weiter zum vollständigen Artikel bei "Investors Business Daily"
Quelle: Investors Business Daily