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Microsoft: Enterprise Strength Buoys An Especially Strong Quarter

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Summary

Microsoft exceeded expectations yet again in Q3, beating analyst expectations on the top and bottom lines. Total revenue growth accelerated to 16% in Q3, versus 12% in Q2.

Azure saw 93% y/y in the quarter, and commercial cloud as a whole saw 58% y/y growth.

Gross margin improvements across cloud offerings contributed to a huge bump in profitability. Profits in the quarter rose 35% y/y.

Even tertiary businesses like Surface, gaming, and search saw strength in the quarter.

Though Microsoft trades at a premium to large-cap software peers, its consistency of execution merits its large premium.

Betting on Microsoft (MSFT), it seems, is always a winning bet. The software giant just reported Q3 results that, as usual since Satya Nadella took over the helm, dazzled Wall Street and beat expectations across nearly every metric. Microsoft‘s performance in Q3 largely continues a multi-quarter trend. Ever since Microsoft began breaking out revenues for Azure and individual product lines within its cloud division, we’ve been able to see exactly how successful Microsoft‘s self-driven re-invention in the cloud has been.

Last quarter, after Microsoft posted Q2 results in February, I had conjecturedthat Microsoft would be one of the tech heavyweights that would hold steady in a downturn. March and April did indeed turn out to be fairly bloody months for tech stocks, rattled by concerns over regulation driven by Facebook’s (FB) Cambridge Analytica scandal in March and further pressured by interest rate hikes in April. Yet, the one large-cap name that has largely been immune to volatility over the past quarter was Microsoft. Though it’s true that Microsoft‘s 12% YTD rise still lags behind the performance of Internet giants like Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft is still performing much better than the tech sector and NASDAQ, and is well on its way to notching new all-time highs. Analysts are already raising price targets, and the median price target, according to the Wall Street Journal, is $110 and represents 15% upside to current levels.

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Article Credit: Seeking Alpha

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