This week brings an earnings “showdown” between Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon (AMZN) in the cloud space as the two companies report earnings only a day apart (on Wednesday October 23 for Microsoft and Thursday October 24 for Amazon.)
Microsoft’s cloud effort–Azure–is growing faster than Amazon Web Services. But Amazon Web Service is so much bigger–with about 3 times the computing capacity in use than the next 10 largest providers–that even Azure’s 92% growth in fiscal 2018 and 64% year over year in the June quarter–hasn’t been able to make much of a dent.
But that doesn’t mean the growth and margin numbers the two companies will report this week are irrelevant. In fact they’re extremely important. The cloud, Azure, and the transition of Microsoft’s productivity products such as Office 365 to the cloud are key to Microsoft’s growth going forward. Investors will be looking to see if the company can continue to record huge deals like the $2 billion contract for Azure in June. For Microsoft, the cloud and Azure are the future.
And at Amazon the company needs continued growth from Amazon Web Services to offset slowing growth in the online retail segment. Wall Street is projecting revenue of $36 billion for AWS in 20019 with a gradual increase in operating margin to 30% over the next five years from 28.4% in 2018 and then, Morningstar projects, an increase to mid-30% operating margins in the longer run.
Any deviation from those growth paths for either company will take a bite out of their shares.
Amazon is a member of my long-term 50 Stocks Portfolio. Microsoft is a member of my Jubak Picks Portfolio. Shares of Amazon are up 183.4% since I added them to the 50 Stocks Portfolio on April 19, 2016. Shares of Microsoft are up 35.49% since I added them to the Jubak Picks Portfolio on June 14, 2018.