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Microsoft Q1 2021 earnings beat expectations on cloud strength

Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor
·3 min read

Microsoft (MSFT) on Tuesday announced its fiscal Q1 2021 earnings, beating analysts’ expectations on the strength of its cloud business.

These are the most important numbers from the report compared to what analysts were expecting out of the tech giant, as compiled by Bloomberg.

Revenue: $37.2 billion versus $35.76 billion expected

Earnings per share: $1.82 versus $1.55 expected

Intelligent Cloud: $12.99 billion versus $12.78 billion expected

More Personal Computing: $11.85 billion versus $11.27 billion expected

The company’s stock was down less than 1% following the report.

Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud business has been the growth engine behind the firm’s stock growth and its march toward a valuation north of $1.5 trillion. In Q1, the segment’s revenue grew by 20%, with its Azure platform growing 48%. Commercial cloud revenue increased by 31% year over year.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addresses a news conference in Berlin, Germany February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addresses a news conference in Berlin, Germany February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

And the cloud business is only expected to grow more as the current work-from-home environment sets in for millions of consumers around the world, according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.

“In many cases we are seeing enterprises accelerate their digital transformation and cloud strategy with Microsoft by 6 to 12 months as the prospects of a heavy remote workforce for the foreseeable future now looks in the cards with this COVID-19 backdrop,” Ives wrote in a recent analyst note.

But in a recent UBS analyst note, Karl Keirstead points out that in Q2 some industries, those particularly hard hit by the pandemic were scaling back on their cloud usage, while others were ramping up.

“This in our view offset the usage lift that [Amazon Web Services], Azure and [Google Cloud Platform] got from the sudden pivot to work-from-home (requiring more virtual call centers, virtual desktops and a lift from AWS clients such as Netflix, Slack, Hulu, Disney, Zoom and various Gaming customers),” he wrote.

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In the meantime, according to Ives, Microsoft has the benefit of converting its existing enterprise customers to its cloud platforms.

“To this point, we believe Azure's cloud momentum is still in its early days of playing out within the company’s massive installed base and the Office 365 transition for both consumer [and] enterprise is providing growth tailwinds over the next few years,” he wrote.

Beyond the cloud, Microsoft is also set to debut its latest game console, the Xbox Series X, in November, which could give a boost to its More Personal Computing segment in Q2 2021. How well the console sells out of the gate will depend on its launch lineup, as well as availability.

Microsoft also announced its acquisition of ZeniMax Media in Q4 2020, which will give the company access to major game franchises including “The Elder Scrolls,” “Fallout,” and “Doom.” Microsoft’s Xbox revenue grew 30% in Q1 as more consumers pile into gaming due to the pandemic.

Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoofinance.com over via encrypted mail at danielphowley@protonmail.com, and follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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