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Why Microsoft Is a 'Sneaky Long' Play: Pro

As the enterprise market begins to ramp up its purchases of Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system, one analyst sees the tech giant's shares gaining traction.

"The stock's kind of a sneaky long — nobody likes it, but it keeps kind of drifting higher," Rick Sherlund, a managing director at Nomura Securities, said Friday on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

Sherlund has a "buy" rating and a $32 price target on Microsoft stock. On Thursday, the company edged above Wall Street's earnings forecasts but missed revenue estimates.

"I kind of have to apologize to people that I'm recommending it, which is a good sign probably that a lot of bad news is already out on the stock," he said.

So far, the results for Windows 8 orders have been soft, he said, adding that it's unclear how many of them are upgrades from Windows 7 for only $15 and how many are shipments with new machines, which would command a higher price.

"Windows 8 will probably resonate better in the enterprise market" than among consumers who don't really need Office, he said. And as enterprises begin to buy the product for their employees, Sherlund thinks "that's when the stock starts to gain a little more traction."

While Sherlund does not think it is important that Microsoft succeeds in hardware, it is important that their partners do. One concern though is the risk of Google's Android commoditizing the tablet market.

Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro
Source: Microsoft.com
Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro

"I'm not so concerned about Apple as much as just the whole market getting commoditized and making it very difficult in the tablet market," he said. "And so on the consumer side, I think that's a real tough market for Microsoft. If you don't need Office, then you really don't need to pay a premium for their products."

Microsoft's latest earnings report comes days after a source close to the matter told CNBC that the company is in talks with Silver Lake Partners and Dell's CEO Michael Dell to invest $1 billion to $3 billion in a leveraged buyout of the personal computer maker.

Sherlund said he's seen Microsoft engage in strategic investments that are not necessarily intended for a direct return. Through these deals, the company has nurtured its ecosystems and helped its partners, he said.

"Microsoft generates that much cash in a month or two, so it's just not important to me as an investor," he said. "If they park $2 billion or $3 billion in Dell stock for a while and help out a partner, hopefully they'll get some strategic benefit of keeping Dell viable as an important partner of theirs."

— Written by CNBC's Katie Little. Follow here on Twitter @katie_little_

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Disclosure: The Nomura Group expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from Microsoft in the next three months.