Microsoft soars past $800 billion in value after bumper results

Shares of Microsoft Corp. were set to open at a record high, after the company reported another blockbuster quarter. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Microsoft soars past $800 billion in value after bumper results

  • Revenue for the company’s LinkedIn business and job network grew 37 percent from the year-ago quarter, while its Dynamics 365 online business application suite posted a 61 percent increase
  • Net income rose to $8.87 billion, or $1.14 per share, from $8.07 billion, or $1.03 per share, in the year-ago fourth quarter

LONDON: Shares of Microsoft Corp. were set to open at a record high on Friday, after the company reported another blockbuster quarter, backed by growth in its legacy software business and Azure cloud computing services.
Shares of one of the technology world’s oldest and best-known names rose 4 percent to $108.50 in trading before the bell, potentially adding nearly $32 billion to a market capitalization that was already $802 billion at close on Thursday.
At least six brokerages raised their price targets on the company’s stock after the results.
Helped by a boom in demand for cloud-based software, Microsoft has more than doubled in value since Satya Nadella took over as chief executive in 2014 and refocused the software behemoth on newer businesses.
While Microsoft’s core productivity and business processes unit, which includes the Office 365 software suite, rose 13.1 percent to $9.67 billion, revenue for the Azure cloud service jumped 89 percent.
“Based on the results, they were able to beat on all major metrics that people were focusing on. I don’t see anything that should raise an eyebrow of concern,” said Daniel Morgan, a portfolio manager at Synovus Trust who holds 418,716 Microsoft shares.
Microsoft has been investing heavily to bolster the fast-growing cloud business and catch up with market leader Amazon.com Inc’s Amazon Web Services.
It also competes with Alphabet Inc, IBM and Alibaba.
“Our early investments in the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge are paying off, and we will continue to expand our reach in large and growing markets with differentiated innovation,” Nadella said on a conference call on Thursday.
Analysts expect the investments to pay off in the long run and provide rich dividends to shareholders, allowing Microsoft to rival Apple Inc. and Amazon in the race to be the first company worth $1 trillion.
“Our view on MSFT is unchanged: the stock is our favorite large cap name and we expect MSFT to deliver 10-20% annual stock price appreciation for the next several years,” Canaccord Genuity analyst Richard Davis wrote in a client note.
Of the 35 analysts covering the stock, 31 have a “buy” or higher rating, three are on “hold” and only one on “strong sell.”
“Microsoft has successfully come from behind to exceed Amazon’s cloud revenue, and that gap is only increasing in Microsoft’s favor,” Mark Sami, vice president at consultancy firm SPR said.
“I predict that Microsoft’s cloud market share will continue to grow and impress investors.”


Japan exports fall for first time since 2016 as trade war fears mount

Updated 45 min 20 sec ago
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Japan exports fall for first time since 2016 as trade war fears mount

  • Japanese policymakers remain wary about the overall economic impact of the international trade frictions
  • The US-Sino tariff row has yet to materially hurt trade activity

TOKYO: Japan’s exports fell in September for the first time since 2016 as shipments to the US and China declined, likely impeding third quarter economic growth and adding to concerns about the broadening impact of an escalating Sino-US trade war.
The data comes days after a Reuters poll showed a third of Japanese companies — not just exporters — have been affected by the trade conflict between the world’s two biggest economies, and more than half worried about its fallout on their business.
Japanese policymakers also remain wary about the overall economic impact of the international trade frictions. A string of natural disasters that struck Japan has added to the strain on factories, disrupting output and physical distribution.
The US-Sino tariff row has yet to materially hurt trade activity, but a slowdown in external demand has bolstered views that Japan’s economy, the world’s third largest, likely slowed sharply in the July-September quarter.
“The economy probably grew only slightly in the third quarter, led by firm consumption and brisk capex. External demand likely made no contribution,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.
“Assuming the US-China trade frictions have widespread effects on global trade, Japan’s exports will struggle to grow.”
Minami said declines in shipments to the US and China — the two key export destinations for Japan — are a source of concern as each of them accounts for about 20 percent of Japanese exports, respectively.
Ministry of Finance (MOF) data out on Thursday showed Japanese exports fell 1.2 percent in September from a year earlier, against a 1.9 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll, and followed a 6.6 percent gain in August.
It was the first decline since November 2016.
In volume terms, exports fell 4.8 percent in the year to September, the first drop in seven months.
Japan’s exports to the US declined 0.2 percent in the year to September, dragged down by falling shipments of construction and mining machinery, auto parts and medicines.
US-bound auto exports amounted to some 143,000 cars, down 7.0 percent year-on-year in a snapback from the previous year’s brisk shipments, a sign that car sales have levelled off.
Imports from the US rose 3.1 percent in September, led by crude oil, liquefied petroleum gas, helping reduce Japan’s trade surplus with the US by 4.0 percent year-on-year to ¥590 billion ($5.24 billion).
The US Trade Representative’s office told Congress on Tuesday it would open trade talks with Japan, describing the country as an important yet underperforming market for US exports.
Tokyo and Washington last month agreed to start trade talks in an arrangement that, for now, avoids the worst-case scenario of an imminent 25 percent tariff on cars.
Trump has made clear he is unhappy with Japan’s $69 billion trade surplus with the US — nearly two-thirds of it from auto exports — and wants a two-way agreement to address it.
Tokyo pushed back on a straight bilateral Free Trade Agreement that Washington had sought, fearing it could put Japan under pressure to open politically sensitive sectors such as agriculture.
Thursday’s trade data showed exports to China, Japan’s biggest trading partner, fell 1.7 percent in the year to September, the first decline in seven months, dragged down by semiconductor production equipment.
Shipments to Asia, which account for more than half of Japan’s overall exports, rose 0.9 percent.
Overall imports rose 7.0 percent in the year to September, versus the median estimate for a 13.7 percent annual increase.
The trade balance was surplus of ¥139.6 billion, compared with the median estimate for a shortfall of ¥50 billion.
“External demand has likely put a drag on Japan’s economy,” said Koya Miyamae, senior economist at SMBC Nikko Securities.
“Going forward, exports may recover from supply constraints, but effects from slowdown in emerging markets, and the US-China trade war remain a source of concern.”