If you look over the leaderboard of gainers on volume, it may seem unusual to see shares of Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) on there. Shares were up 3.8% at $38.04 late in the day with just over thirty minutes until the closing bell.
This was not an earnings story. It is not even a formal replacement story of Steve Ballmer as Chief Executive officer. The driving force is that Nomura released an action plan that could get the stock back up to $50 if all goes well. The rating was maintained as Buy and the price target was raised to $45 from $40 in the call.
24/7 Wall St. would remind investors that this is a multi-year high again and the market cap is $317 billion.
Rick Sherlund was the analyst making the report at Nomura. Sherlund was known as one of the great technology and software analysts at Goldman Sachs before he went to Nomura, so the report is getting more attention than if this was some no-name boutique firm with someone’s signature that nobody had ever heard of before.
Sherlund believes that Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) CEO Alan Mulally will be the replacement. This rumor has been out there before and we would point out that Mulally seemed to deny this rumor before. We would be specific in stating the denial was not one written in stone.
Another path is that the Bing and Xbox businesses could be unlocked from the software business to drive earnings higher. Another large buyback could add to earnings further. Sherlund thinks Ballmer should be gone entirely, even from the board of directors, and that other directors may leave too.
On a side note, 24/7 Wall St. suggested this before by pointing that the board of directors literally has no young blood. It is full of great executives, but they are all older and may not be in touch with the trends of the next two decades as they were the trends of the last two decades. A more rapid cloud build out could be another huge gain for the company in Sherlund’s outlook.
Prior to the bullish report, the consensus analyst price target was down at $34.82. Microsoft’s current stock price is over $3 higher than that as of now.