Why Microsoft Earnings Wowed Investors

Chris Lange

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) reported fiscal fourth-quarter results after markets closed on Tuesday. This tech giant answered the call and beat estimates on both the top and bottom lines. The way that Microsoft closed out this fiscal year (shares up 20%) was reflective of the way that it has expanded its market presence across most of its platforms—especially Intelligent Cloud and Azure.

The company said that it had $0.69 in earnings per share (EPS) on $22.64 billion in revenue. There were consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $0.58 in EPS on $22.14 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $0.60 in EPS on $22.18 billion in revenue.

Although Microsoft did not provide an outlook for its business in the report, the company did say it would provide an update on its earnings conference call. Looking ahead there are consensus estimates predicting $0.69 in EPS on $22.14 billion in revenue for the fiscal first quarter.

In terms of its business segments Microsoft reported:

  • Productivity and Business Processes revenue grew 5% (up 8% in constant currency) to $7.0 billion.
  • Intelligent Cloud revenue grew 7% (up 10% in constant currency) to $6.7 billion.
  • More Personal Computing revenue declined 4% (down 2% in constant currency) to $8.9 billion.

Perhaps one of the most spectacular highlights in this report was in the Intelligent Cloud segment where Azure revenue grew by 102% (up 108% in constant currency). Azure compute usage more than doubled from the same period last year.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, commented on earnings:

This past year was pivotal in both our own transformation and in partnering with our customers who are navigating their own digital transformations. The Microsoft Cloud is seeing significant customer momentum and we’re well positioned to reach new opportunities in the year ahead.

During the quarter, Microsoft returned $6.4 billion to shareholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends.

On the books, cash, cash equivalents, and short term investments totaled $113.2 billion at the end of the quarter, versus $96.5 billion at the end of the previous fiscal year.

Shares of Microsoft closed Tuesday down 1.6% at $53.09, with a consensus analyst price target of $58.00 and a 52-week trading range of $39.72 to $56.85. Following the release of the earnings report, the stock was up about 3.4% at $54.88 in the after-hours trading session.