Tech

Microsoft beats on revenue and earnings; stock is little changed

Key Points
  • Microsoft beat expectations on the top and bottom lines, but revenue guidance was lower than expected.
  • The company's Azure revenue growth declined to 59%.
VIDEO3:2103:21
Microsoft sinks despite earnings, revenue beat

Microsoft stock was little changed on Wednesday after the company reported better-than-expected fiscal first quarter results and slightly lower-than-expected quarterly revenue guidance.

Here's how the company did:

  • Earnings: $1.38 per share, excluding certain items, vs. $1.25 per share as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.
  • Revenue: $33.06 billion, vs. $32.23 billion as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.

Revenue increased 14% on an annualized basis in the first quarter of Microsoft's 2020 fiscal year, which ended on September 30, according to a statement.

The Azure public cloud business delivered 59% revenue growth, which is down from the 64% growth one quarter earlier. Microsoft doesn't disclose Azure revenue in dollar figures. Analysts at Evercore, which has the equivalent of a buy rating on Microsoft stock, said in a note distributed to clients on October 18 that they had been expecting 64% Azure growth in the fiscal first quarter. Azure's growth rate has generally been on the decline as it keeps growing, like competitor Amazon Web Services, which is larger but growing more slowly.

"We do continue to expect Azure, especially on the consumption side, gross margins to improve," Amy Hood, Microsoft's chief financial officer, told analysts on a Wednesday conference call.

Hood called for fiscal second quarter revenue of $35.15 billion to $35.95 billion. The middle of the range, $35.55 billion, was below the $36.02 billion Refinitiv consensus estimate. Hood predicted $12.45 billion to $12.65 billion in the cost of goods sold in the fiscal second quarter; analysts polled by FactSet had expected an average of $13.37 billion.

The top business segment in the fiscal first quarter was More Personal Computing, the traditional core of the company. Analysts had expected that to happen. In the previous quarter Microsoft's Intelligent Cloud business segment, which includes Azure, was larger than any other segment for the first time in more than three years.

More Personal Computing, which comprises Windows, Surface, search ads and gaming, came up with $11.13 billion in revenue. Analysts polled by FactSet had been looking for $10.90 billion. Commercial Windows revenue from device makers rose 19% ahead of the end of support for Windows 7, which comes in January 2020. Gartner and IDC earlier this month both pointed to the Windows 10 upgrade cycle when they reported increases in PC shipments in the quarter.

Revenue from Windows commercial products and cloud services surged 26%; one year earlier the growth rate was 12%. Microsoft attributed the change to more agreements on Microsoft 365, a bundle that includes Windows 10, Office 365 productivity services and mobility and security tools. Commercial revenue from services and device makers was more than Microsoft had expected, Hood said.

Microsoft's Productivity and Business Processes unit, which contains Office, LinkedIn and Dynamics, delivered $11.08 billion in revenue. The FactSet consensus estimate was $10.88 million. Office 365 commercial seat growth slowed to 21% on an annualized basis as Microsoft crossed 200 million Office 365 commercial monthly active users. Microsoft reported a 9.5% increase in the number of Office 365 consumer subscribers, which is now at 35.6 million.

The Intelligent Cloud segment, which houses Azure along with Windows Server, SQL Server, System Center, GitHub and consulting, contributed $10.85 billion in revenue. The FactSet estimate was $10.42 billion.

In the fiscal first quarter, Microsoft said LinkedIn would move to Azure, and announced the acquisitions of cloud migration company Movere, data security company BlueTalon and retail advertising company PromoteIQ.

Earlier this month Jefferies analysts led by Brent Thill upgraded Microsoft stock to buy from the equivalent of a sell rating. "We see a large diversified business with excellent visibility that has a clear line of sight into double-digit rev growth for the foreseeable future," they wrote in a note to clients. The analysts pointed to Azure, the Office business and LinkedIn as growth opportunities.

Microsoft said last month that it would stop disclosing gaming revenue in its earnings releases, and would instead start disclosing revenue growth from Xbox content and services, as the company has bolstered its gaming services, with more coming soon. (It still discloses gaming revenue in its quarterly financial filing with the SEC.) In the fiscal first quarter, though, Microsoft said Xbox content and services revenue was basically unchanged; that result has to do with impact from the game Fortnite in the same period one year earlier, when there was 36% growth, making for a difficult comparison.

Microsoft shares are up about 35% since the beginning of the year.

WATCH: Microsoft beats on top and bottom

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Microsoft beats on top and bottom