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Apr 30, 2020

Microsoft's strong cloud demand leads to 'brilliant quarter'

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: A signage of Microsoft is seen on March 13, 2020 in New York City. Co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board to spend more time on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images) Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images North America

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Microsoft Corp. shares were slightly higher on Thursday after the software maker posted better-than-expected quarterly results as increased remote work accelerated demand for its cloud-computing products.

The strength didn’t surprise analysts, as cloud-computing has been a bright spot this year. But several firms raised their price targets on the stock, praising management’s continued execution in a more difficult macroeconomic environment.

Microsoft “remains well-positioned as a net beneficiary of increasing Cloud adoption in the coming years,” and the stock should continue to be a core growth holding, UBS wrote.

BMO Capital Markets wrote that Microsoft had posted a “brilliant quarter,” although the outlook “suggests areas of diminished demand.”

Shares rose 0.7 per cent after briefly dipping into negative territory. The stock has climbed more than 30 per cent from a March low.

Here’s what analysts are saying about the results:

BMO Capital Markets, Keith Bachman

This was a “brilliant quarter,” and shows that enterprise spending “is being prioritized in areas that include cloud, workflow, and certain areas of security,” areas that will continue to favor both Azure and Office, including Teams.

The outlook, while possibly conservative, “suggests areas of diminished demand.”

Outperform rating, price target raised to US$212 from US$200.

UBS, Jennifer Swanson Lowe

“Strong secular demand for Azure and Office 365” helped Microsoft beat expectations “despite a more challenging macro backdrop.”

The company “remains well-positioned as a net beneficiary of increasing Cloud adoption in the coming years,” and the stock should continue to be a core growth holding.

Buy rating, price target raised to US$207 from US$200.

Morgan Stanley, Keith Weiss

Microsoft’s suite of cloud products make it “even more strategic to customers in a difficult environment.”

“While not immune to Covid impacts, a strengthening positioning buttresses our confidence in [long term] growth.”

Overweight rating, top-pick status. Price target raised to US$198 from US$180.

RBC Capital Markets, Alex Zukin

This was “a notably strong quarter especially given fears around the impacts of COVID-19.”

Outperform, price target raised to $196 from $190.

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:

“Strong demand for Microsoft’s productivity software and cloud services could continue for the next couple of quarters.”

- Analyst Anurag Rana