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Microsoft (MSFT) Boosts Hardware Efforts With New Appointment

Zacks Equity Research

Microsoft MSFT recently appointed Apple’s AAPL former executive, Ruben Caballero, as Corporate Vice President Engineering - Hardware Design & Technology. Notably, the news was first reported by Bloomberg.

Per Caballero’s LinkedIn profile, he oversees “Mixed Reality & AI Division - HoloLens, Special Projects and more to come....”

Markedly, Caballero worked at Apple for 14 years and left the company in early 2019 as Vice President of Engineering. In his time at Apple, Caballero had worked on design, research and development of iPhones, iPads and Macs, to Apple TV/Siri Remote and Airport Products.

Microsoft is well positioned to strengthen its hardware portfolio with Caballero’s product design and engineering expertise. The latest development is a testament to the tech giant’s growing investments in its expanding hardware portfolio.

Notably, shares of the company have returned 4.8% year to date, compared with the industry’s decline of 1.5%.

Efforts to Boost Mixed Reality and IoT Domain Hold Promise

In mixed reality (MR) space, the tech giant has explored various use cases and is striving to enhance its MR glasses, HoloLens. Notably, the term “mixed reality”, coined by Microsoft, implies a merger of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies.

Microsoft’s HoloLens offers MR technology and has gained significant adoption among developers, ranging from defense (the U.S. army, Israel army), healthcare, architecture, construction industries to the scientific research domain.

Growing clout of hologram technology (superimposition of digital holograms or digital logos onto the real physical world) among enterprises and workplaces, is a tailwind.

Further, Microsoft has been making concerted efforts to democratize the benefits of IoT. In April 2018, the company announced investment of “$5 billion in IoT and the intelligent edge over the next four years.”

With Caballero on board, the company is well poised to address evolving challenges in the MR space and enhance HoloLens offerings and broaden its use.

Focus on Fortifying Hardware Portfolio Bodes Well

The tech giant is also strengthening its Surface portfolio with advanced AI and ML tools, to offer superior workspace experience and boost business productivity.

For instance, the company’s new dual-screen devices, Surface Duo and Surface Neo, have been designed to enhance productivity for on-the-go mobile workers. These devices are slated to release in Holiday 2020.

Further, the company is striving to capitalize on the coronavirus-crisis triggered work-from-home and stay-at-home wave, with innovative hardware accessory additions with partners, to boost its enterprise productivity software offerings.

Markedly, the company recently unveiled new hardware including Collaboration bars, RealWear headsets, Teams Walkie Talkie on the Samsung XCover Pro, Bose headsets for Teams and Poly CCX Series of Teams phones, to bolster collaborative capabilities and enhance video conferencing for users working remotely.

As the coronavirus crisis intensifies, governments are extending lockdown, which is in turn boosting the demand for office equipment as more employees work remotely.

In this backdrop, Microsoft’s initiatives to boost its hardware portfolio with new hires and innovative capabilities are likely to instill investor optimism in the stock.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Currently, Microsoft carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the broader technology sector are Avid Technology AVID and OSI Systems OSIS. While Avid Technology sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), OSI carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Long-term earnings growth rate for Avid Technology and OSI Systems is currently pegged at 20% and 18%, respectively.

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