Don’t bet against the trend in Microsoft, Piper Jaffray technician says

Microsoft sits close to record highs heading into its earnings report out Thursday evening. One technician sees more long-term upside from here.

“You don’t want to bet against this kind of trend. This stock has done well. It’s done well for quite some time,” Craig Johnson, chief market technician at Piper Jaffray, told CNBC’s “Trading Nation.”

Microsoft is up 22 percent so far this year. If it holds those gains, Microsoft shares will have risen by double digits for the sixth year in a row. It is the third best performer on the Dow, coming in behind Nike and Visa.

But don’t rush in as soon as this afternoon, warns Johnson.

“Buying stocks that look fairly extended coming into these earnings releases don’t seem to always be a recipe for success. Think about Netflix,” he added.

Netflix plummeted by more than 5 percent on Tuesday, the day after it reported subscriber numbers that came in short of forecasts. Any disappointment in Microsoft’s report could also cause short-term harm for its sky-high stock, argues Johnson.

Beyond Thursday’s report, its longer-term outlook looks good to Johnson.

“From my trading perspective, I would say long-term trend is up, short-term I’m not buying it ahead of the release tonight,” he explained further. “I see downside support near about $100 on this stock and if it does sell off after this announcement I’d definitely be a buyer of it because I think the long-term trend is still intact.”

Microsoft shares currently sit around 4 percent above $100, a level that coincides with its 50-day moving average.

The options market is also suggesting a bullish bias when it comes to Microsoft, says Stacey Gilbert, market strategist at Susquehanna.

“The options market even with the stock’s outperformance this year continues to be bullish. So if we’re looking at the implied move, it’s roughly 3 percent,” Gilbert said on Thursday’s “Trading Nation.” “There is no excess risk being priced in here.”

Microsoft, reporting its fiscal June-ended fourth quarter, is expected to post nearly 10 percent earnings growth. Sales are forecast to grow by 18 percent in what could mark its tenth straight quarterly increase. Microsoft has beat earnings estimates in every quarter since the three months to March in 2016.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET). In addition, he contributes to CNBC and CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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