Cloud Unit Gives Big Boost to Microsoft's Earnings -- WSJ
By Aaron Tilley
This article is being republished as part of our daily
reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S.
print edition of The Wall Street Journal (October 24, 2019).
Microsoft Corp. said continued strength in its cloud-computing
business helped deliver strong first-quarter earnings growth.
The technology giant on Wednesday reported earnings of $1.38 a
share compared with $1.14 in the year-ago period. Analysts surveyed
by FactSet had expected per-share earnings of $1.24. Revenue rose
13.6% to $33.06 billion, beating analysts projections.
Microsoft's sales for its three main product areas in the
quarter surpassed its guidance. Each of the segments should report
higher sales in the current quarter, Chief Financial Officer Amy
Hood told analysts in a conference call.
The Redmond, Wash., company has enjoyed a strong period of
higher earnings, in part because of Microsoft Chief Executive Satya
Nadella's bet on cloud computing, a model where customers rent
computing power instead of buying their own machines.
Revenue for Microsoft's commercial-cloud operations, which
include Azure computing services, Office 365 tools and other cloud
services, increased 36% to a record $11.6 billion.
Its focus on the cloud has helped turn Microsoft into the third
company to hit a $1 trillion valuation. It was the most valuable
company in the world before ceding the title back to Apple Inc.
Microsoft has been trying to take market share from Amazon.com
Inc., the No. 1 company in cloud computing by sales. To bolster its
position, it has made a series of acquisitions to add services to
its cloud business. This week, the company announced it was
acquiring startup called Mover, which will help businesses migrate
data to Office 365.
One of Microsoft's biggest challenges is to sustain its
cloud-computing momentum amid concerns that businesses may slow
information-technology spending in coming months over concerns of a
global economic slowdown. Azure sales growth in the last quarter
fell to 59% from 64% in the previous quarter.
Brad Reback, an analyst at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. said
Microsoft earnings were strong "across the board." Though Azure's
sales have slowed, Mr. Reback said the company's performance was
impressive with Microsoft's growth outpacing that of Amazon's cloud
service at a comparable point.
Microsoft's intelligent cloud segment, which includes its Azure
product line, booked revenue of $10.85 billion, up 27%, beating
analyst expectations of $10.42 billion.
Microsoft's productivity and business process division, which
includes LinkedIn, sales-management software Dynamics and
commercial subscriptions to the Office 360 product suite, had
$11.07 billion in sales, up 13% from the same quarter a year ago.
Analysts were expecting sales of $10.85 billion for the
The company's slower-growing "more personal computing" segment,
which includes Xbox gaming equipment, its Surface hardware lineup
and Windows licensing fees, reported revenue of $11.13 billion, up
4%, versus analyst estimates of $10.88 billion. Sales of Surface
hardware were down 4% from the previous year. With the recent
release of new Surface hardware the company expects revenue to be
up by a low-double-digit percentage in the current quarter.
Sales of computers featuring the company's Windows 10 software
appeared to get a boost as companies transition away from the older
Windows 7 suite that Microsoft has said it would stop supporting
early next year. Revenue from the Windows Pro segment rose 19%,
compared with an 8% increase a year ago.
Corrections & Amplifications Brad Reback is an analyst at
Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. An earlier version of this article
incorrectly referred to him as Mr. Stiffel on second reference.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 24, 2019 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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