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Microsoft (MSFT) to report Q1 earnings; Cloud in the spotlight

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) is slated to report its earnings results for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 on Wednesday after the market closes. The results will be benefited by the Intelligent cloud revenue as the cloud has been behind the company’s robust performance momentum.

The growth in the company’s cloud computing service, Azure, will be driven by strong execution and upbeat demand from customers for hybrid cloud offerings. The development of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and the Internet of Things (IoT) are likely to drive increase the growth for Microsoft.

Microsoft (MSFT) Q1 2020 earnings preview
Courtesy: Microsoft

The top line will be driven by server products and cloud services, Office, LinkedIn, Surface, Gaming, and Windows. The company will experience an increase in operating expenses due to the investments in cloud and AI engineering, Gaming, LinkedIn, and GitHub. However, the expenses leverage could be manageable for Microsoft.

Microsoft will continue to make significant investments in research, development, and marketing for existing products, services, and technologies. This includes the Windows operating system, Microsoft 365, Office, Bing, Microsoft SQL Server, Windows Server, Azure, Office 365, Xbox Live, Mixer, LinkedIn, and other products and services.

During mid-September, Microsoft raised its quarterly dividend by 11% to $0.51 per share. This has a forward annual dividend yield of 1.45%. The dividend payout ratio stood at 35.57%. The board also approved a new share repurchase program authorizing up to $40 billion in share buybacks.

Read: Lam Research Q1 earnings preview

Analysts expect the company’s earnings to increase by 8.80% to $1.24 per share and revenue will jump by 11% to $32.23 billion for the first quarter. The company has surprised investors by beating analysts’ expectations in all of the past four quarters. The majority of the analysts recommended a “strong-buy” rating with an average price target of $157.39.

For the fourth quarter, Microsoft reported a 49% jump in earnings backed by an income tax benefit. Revenue increased by 12% driven by double-digit growth in Productivity and Business Processes, and Intelligent Cloud segments. Xbox Live monthly active users grew by 14% to 65 million. Xbox hardware revenue declined 48% and Xbox software and services revenue dropped 3%. Gaming revenue declined 10% with Xbox software and services revenue down 3%.

For the fourth quarter, LinkedIn revenue grew 25% with strong momentum across all lines of business. LinkedIn sessions grew 22% with record levels of engagement and job postings. Office Commercial products and cloud services revenue rose 14% driven by Office 365 Commercial revenue growth of 31%.

Listen to on-demand earnings calls and hear how management responds to analysts’ questions

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