The reaction to Microsoft’s (MSFT) earnings report yesterday after the market close tells you that this market is poised at an earnings inflection point. Earnings, especially technology company earnings, are going to be strong this quarter, but the earnings growth rate will be down from the big Pandemic recovery growth rates of 2021.
Will the solid earnings growth this quarter be enough to stabilize this market?
Which brings me to Microsoft.
Initially, the stock fell on Tuesday, January 25, as growth from the company’s Azure cloud software business in the December quarter fell to just 46% year over year. (46% year over year sounds pretty god to me, but what do I know?) In early after-hours trading the stock fell 4.7%. The worry was that after year over year growth of 50% in the September quarter and 51% in the June quarter, Microsoft was seeing a trend pointing to lower growth in its cloud business. No small deal since the cloud services business has become the company’s growth driver.
But then, in an interview, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood said that Azure growth had been stronger than the company expected and in its conference call the company said Azure revenue growth would pick up in the current quarter from the quarter just reported.
And so shares of Microsoft did an about face and climbed in the after-hours session by as much as 3.9%.
The shares are up 2.85% in today’s regular session as of the close.
The reversal of investor opinion on Microsoft’s results also led to gains from Amazon (AMZN), the cloud services market leader, and Alphabet (GOOG), No. 3 in the market behind Microsoft.
Microsoft is, obviously, more than a cloud services software company. In the More Personal Computing division, including Windows, Surface and Xbox, revenue was $17.5 billion. That topped the average $16.7 billion projection. Sales of Office 365 to business customers rose 19%. Revenue from Windows operating-system software sold to PC makers increased 25%, buoyed by strong demand for corporate machines that carry higher-priced versions of Windows. (Lots of cash flow for acquisitions and investment.) Sales of Xbox machines climbed 4% compared with the year-earlier holiday period. Revenue from Xbox content and services jumped 10% in the recent period. (And somewhere out there is a VR/AR product.)
Last week, Microsof