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Analysts cheer Microsoft’s cloud results and upbeat forecast


A strong showing in its cloud business, as well as an upbeat fiscal year forecast, has Wall Street bullish on Microsoft after the tech giant’s latest quarterly release. Microsoft reported earnings and revenue in its most recent quarter that missed expectations. Still, investors approved of the revenue growth in Azure and cloud services, which jumped by 40%. The tech giant’s expectations of double digit revenue and operating income growth in fiscal year 2023 also encouraged investors. “The results were not bad,” AllianceBernstein’s Mark Moerdler wrote in a Wednesday note. “Important growth drivers, such as Azure and Office 365 commercial, did well. Focus shifted to guidance and whether the future would consist of continued weakness or if the company could power through, and both the earnings call and guidance did not disappoint.” AllianceBernstein has an outperform rating on Microsoft, though it trimmed its price target for the stock to $355 from $365. Deutsche Bank’s Brad Zelnick said the company commentary “supported our view of Microsoft as a share consolidator during difficult times, helping customers to achieve more with less.” Zelnick has a buy rating and $330 price target on the stock. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs’s Kash Rangan said the company’s fundamental story remains intact even as the company navigates currency challenges and a difficult macro backdrop. To be sure, some on Wall Street were not sold on Microsoft’s rosy fiscal year 2023 outlook, which remains unchanged from the prior quarter even as recession concerns have grown. “Guides with confidence … but seemingly not much conservatism,” Citi’s Tyler Radke wrote in a Wednesday note. “Commentary would imply that the outlook implies a similar set of macro/demand assumptions as seen in June for Q1 and FY23 which does not seem particularly conservative given the apparent deterioration in the environment throughout Q4.” JPMorgan’s Mark Murphy pointed out that “Microsoft removed the word ‘healthy’ from its double-digit growth guidance, confirmed hiring will slow, and we expect modestly downward estimate revisions – so the macro picture is changing – but we view the degradation as gradual and relatively small in magnitude compared to the broader Tech landscape.” Here’s where some of the big Wall Street firms stand on Microsoft after the company’s report: AllianceBernstein: Outperform, PT to $355 from $365 William Blair: Outperform Bank of America: Reiterate Buy, PT $345 Deutsche Bank: Buy, PT $330 Evercore ISI: Outperform, PT $330 Credit Suisse: Outperform, PT $400 Morgan Stanley: Overweight, PT $354 RBC Capital Markets: Outperform, PT $380 Wolfe Research: Outperform, PT to $275 from $320 Barclays: Overweight, PT $335 Jefferies: Buy, PT $320 Piper Sandler: Overweight, PT $312 Mizuho: Buy, PT $340 JPMorgan: Overweight, PT to $305 from $320 Wells Fargo: Overweight, PT $350 Atlantic Equities: Overweight, PT to $300 from $350 Goldman Sachs: Buy, PT $365 Oppenheimer: Outperform, PT $300 Stifel: Buy, PT to $300 from $320 BMO Capital Markets: Outperform, PT to $320 from $305 Citi: Buy, PT to $300 from $330 –CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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