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Jan 26, 2021

Microsoft sales top projections, lifted by robust cloud demand

Gordon Reid discusses Microsoft

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Microsoft Corp. said fiscal second-quarter sales rose 17 per cent, a faster clip than analysts projected, thanks to buoyant demand for corporate cloud-computing services and software tools that support at-home workers. Shares soared in late trading.

Revenue in the period ended Dec. 31 rose to US$43.1 billion, the Redmond, Washington-based software maker said Tuesday in a statement. That exceeded the US$40.2 billion average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg, and marked Microsoft’s 14th straight quarter of double-digit revenue growth. Net income was US$15.5 billion, or US$2.03 a share. Analysts had predicted US$1.64.

Growth in the company’s Azure cloud-computing division jumped 50 per cent. Microsoft has benefited as many corporate clients have accelerated a shift to the cloud, where they can store data and run applications via the internet, and as businesses set up work teams with online productivity tools and teleconferencing software. Personal-computer sales also surged in the quarter, buoying the company’s flagship Windows operating-system business.

“Cloud is going well, said Mark Moerdler, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “Margins have moved up nicely. There really isn’t a lot that hasn’t gone well.”

Microsoft shares climbed about 5 per cent in extended trading following the report. The stock rose 5.7 per cent during the quarter, compared with a 12 per cent gain in the S&P 500 Index. Stock increases earlier in the year left the company with an expanded price-to-future-earnings multiple that is larger than peers like Facebook and Google, said Bloomberg Intelligence’s Anurag Rana.