Wall Street is still pumped about Microsoft after the business technology giant reported its latest earnings that beat analyst expectations.
Microsoft (MSFT) shares were up around 2.2% to $106.71 in midday trading on Friday, due in part to investor optimism over the company’s push into cloud computing.
The business technology giant reported earnings per share of $1.13, which beat analyst expectations of $1.08. Microsoft also said that its overall fiscal fourth quarter jumped 17% year-over-year to $30.1 billion, beating analyst projections of $29.2 billion.
The company said that its overall fiscal 2018 sales were $110.4 billion, which is the first time it has posted annual revenue over $100 billion.
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Microsoft’s stock is up a whopping 186% since Satya Nadella became CEO in 2014 and began an ambitious turnaround for the company. Part of Nadella’s plans to retool Microsoft included pivoting its resources from its Windows operating system software to its newer Azure cloud computing business.
As Deutsche Bank analyst Karl Keirstead said in a research note, “That magnitude of acceleration at Microsoft’s scale speaks to strong execution and cloud traction as well as a very healthy overall corporate IT spending backdrop.”
Credit Suisse analysts, meanwhile, remained optimistic about Microsoft’s continued success, cheekily naming their latest research note “F4Q18 Results—Azure Like It.” That said, the note does list possible challenges in Microsoft’s near future that it refers to as, “our grey sky scenario.”
Potential challenges Microsoft must address for its upcoming year include, “Increased competition, heavier than anticipated pricing discounts, failure to successfully integrate large M&A transactions, and unexpected delays in software upgrades/new product offerings,” the authors wrote.
Indeed, while Microsoft’s cloud is rising, Amazon (AMZN) Web Services still dominates the market, with Google (GOOG) attempting to nurture and grow its competing cloud business as well. Technology analysts conclude that cloud computing remains in its early stages, so companies are still competing vigorously to win customers that haven’t yet moved much of their internal infrastructure to those of cloud providers.
Because it’s still an early market, expect Microsoft to continue spending a lot of cash on its burgeoning Azure cloud computing business. This requires a tremendous amount of new data center facility investments that don’t come cheap and could cut into the company’s profits.
Also, Microsoft spent $7.5 billion to buy the software code repository startup GitHub, and the next step for Microsoft is to attempt to integrate the developer service without upsetting its users.
It’s a challenge many big companies face when buying popular services. For instance, Microsoft bought Skype in 2011 for $8.5 billion, but its numerous changes to the online calling service annoyed many of Skype’s once-loyal customers, Bloomberg News reported in May.