Sarah Roden

About the Author Sarah Roden

Sarah writes about stock market news for TipRanks. She graduated as member of Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.

Microsoft’s Lackluster Q2 Report Triggers Mixed Ratings

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) released its much-anticipated second quarter earnings report for fiscal year 2015 Monday, January 26th. The lackluster report has investors worrying if the computer software giant is becoming outdated or if the company is just experiencing some growing pains as it restructures itself.

The Q2 report was generally in-line with analyst estimates. Microsoft posted revenue of $26.47 billion, slightly over analysts’ estimates of $26.3 billion. This represents an 8% year-over-year increase; however this is the first report that reflects revenue derived from Nokia mobile business, which Microsoft acquired in April. Operating income was $7.78 billion, down 2% year-over-year. Microsoft posted diluted earnings per share of $0.71, in-line with estimates though a 9% year-over-year decrease.

Microsoft highlighted that revenue derived from the Devices and Consumer segment grew 8% year-over-year to $12.9 billion. Within this segment, revenue from Microsoft’s Surface tablet increased 24% year-over-year. Commercial revenue also grew 5% to $13.3 billion. Within this segment, Microsoft’s Commercial Cloud revenue grew 114% year-over-year, pointing to the company’s efforts to improve and expand cloud services with Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics CRM Online.

Some feel that Microsoft is throwing potential revenue out the window by giving away Windows 10 as a free upgrade to those who already have Windows 7 or 8. Windows 10 was announced on January 21st as Microsoft boasted its HoloLens feature, allowing users to interact with holograms through a headset.

Looking forward to Q3FY2015, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood stated that she expects a stronger U.S. dollar to “negatively impact revenue growth by approximately 4 points,” primarily in the Commercial Business.

Analysts were eager to weigh in on the tech giant following the report.

According to SmarterAnalyst, analyst Shaul Eyal of Oppenheimer reiterated an Outperform rating on MSFT with a $50 price target on January 27th. Eyal highlighted that the Commercial Cloud business grew 114%, but noted that “it wasn’t a clean quarter due to declines in PCs following the XP refresh cycle and weakness in Japan and China.” He continued, “F3Q15 guidance is weighed down by current FX pressure which poses a 4 pt. headwind, even impacting MSFT’s high momentum businesses. Despite NT issues, we remain positive.” Eyal concluded, “We believe that MSFT continues marching down the correct path leveraging business momentum. While NT headwinds will create some weakness, we would add to positions as a firm base and clear direction is the tune of the ‘new’ MSFT.”

Shaul Eyal has rated Microsoft 13 times since September 2012 with a 100% success rate recommending the stock and a +22.9% average return per MSFT recommendation. Overall, Eyal has a 67% success rate recommending stocks with a +8.4% average return per recommendation.

Separately, Walter Pritchard of Citigroup cut his MSFT rating from Neutral to Sell and lowered his price target from $50 to $38. Pritchard noted that even though Microsoft blames a strong U.S. dollar for stifling revenue, he believes “there is more to the weakness than this.” He explains, “While FX does weigh on revenue and EPS (as well as help OpEx), revenue guidance comes down by ~12% vs. street for Q3 while FX impact is just 4% of this. We chalk up most of the rest (~$1B vs. our est) to Windows (~40% of it) as well as lower hardware revenue (coupled with lower GM). It is now clear that WinXP expiration had boosted results in FY14 much greater than anyone anticipated (and was messaged by MSFT).” The analyst revised his guidance, noting “FY16/17 EPS comes down to $2.91 / $3.07 from $3.00 / $3.22 (street $3.15 / $3.45).”

Walter Pritchard has rated MSFT 29 since times April 2011, earning a 76% success rate recommending the stock and a +14.2% average return per MSFT recommendation. Overall, Pritchard has a 69% success rate recommending stocks and a +13.4% average return per recommendation.

On January 27th, analyst Rick Sherlund of Nomura Equity Research lowered his rating on MSFT from Buy to Neutral with a price target of $50, down from $56. Sherlund noted that Microsoft’s cloud restructuring plan is proving to be harder than anticipated, noting, “Cloud revenues continued to show robust growth, but underlying trends in Windows and Office suggest a more challenging transition ahead (at least through our fiscal 2016 time horizon), likely exacerbated by tougher comparisons for the next 2–3 quarters that benefited from the PC refresh cycle associated with the end of support for Windows XP.” Sherlund concluded, “We reduced estimates to reflect a significantly more challenging transition ahead, with difficult comparisons ahead for traditional Office and Windows given evidence of the end of the benefits realized over the past year from the Windows XP related PC refresh cycle, some mix issues driving lower ASP’s, FX and macro issues in a few geographies.”

Rick Sherlund has rated MSFT 69 times since September 2011, earning a 69% success rate recommending the stock and a +12.2% average return per MSFT recommendation. Overall, Sherlund has a 70% success rate recommending stocks with a +11.6% average return per recommendation.

On average, the top analyst consensus for MSFT on TipRanks is Hold.

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