Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Buy

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday. The brokerage currently has $94.00 price target on the software giant’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Microsoft reported impressive first-quarter fiscal 2018 results driven by rapid adoption of Azure and Office 365. We expect these to be the key catalysts in the near future, which along with lower spending is anticipated to drive operating margin expansion in fiscal 2018. We believe that collaborations with the likes of Amazon.com, Red Hat, Symantec, Cray and PAREXEL are positive for the company's growth prospects. Microsoft’s upcoming console -Xbox One X- has significant growth potential, as evident from the record pre-orders. However, lack of exclusive games on the platform as compared with Sony's PS4 is a concern. We also believe that stabilizing PC shipments bodes well for the company. However, Microsoft has underperformed the industry it belongs to on a year-to-date basis.”

A number of other brokerages have also issued reports on MSFT. Sanford C. Bernstein set a $87.00 price target on shares of Microsoft Corporation and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Friday, July 21st. Canaccord Genuity restated a hold rating and set a $76.00 price target on shares of Microsoft Corporation in a research note on Friday, September 15th. Royal Bank Of Canada restated an outperform rating and set a $88.00 price target (up previously from $85.00) on shares of Microsoft Corporation in a research note on Friday, October 27th. Evercore ISI restated a buy rating and set a $80.00 price target on shares of Microsoft Corporation in a research note on Friday, August 18th. Finally, Macquarie set a $77.00 price target on shares of Microsoft Corporation and gave the company a neutral rating in a research note on Friday, July 21st. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have given a hold rating and thirty have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $83.02.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ MSFT) traded up $0.96 during trading hours on Tuesday, reaching $84.14. 17,569,120 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 20,000,000. Microsoft Corporation has a 12 month low of $57.28 and a 12 month high of $86.20. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.91, a current ratio of 3.12 and a quick ratio of 3.06. The stock has a market capitalization of $649.11 billion, a PE ratio of 24.87, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.97 and a beta of 1.01.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The software giant reported $0.84 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.72 by $0.12. Microsoft Corporation had a net margin of 24.56% and a return on equity of 35.23%. The company had revenue of $24.50 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $23.57 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $0.76 earnings per share. Microsoft Corporation’s revenue for the quarter was up 11.7% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts anticipate that Microsoft Corporation will post 3.37 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, December 14th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, November 16th will be given a dividend of $0.42 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, November 15th. This is a boost from Microsoft Corporation’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.39. This represents a $1.68 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.00%. Microsoft Corporation’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 52.70%.

In related news, insider G Mason Morfit sold 7,000,000 shares of Microsoft Corporation stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $72.56, for a total value of $507,920,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, CFO Amy Hood sold 55,000 shares of Microsoft Corporation stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $72.71, for a total transaction of $3,999,050.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief financial officer now owns 510,217 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $37,097,878.07. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 7,096,763 shares of company stock valued at $515,160,712. Company insiders own 1.49% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in MSFT. Hays Advisory LLC grew its holdings in shares of Microsoft Corporation by 8.6% in the first quarter. Hays Advisory LLC now owns 4,303 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $283,000 after purchasing an additional 339 shares in the last quarter. Winslow Evans & Crocker Inc. lifted its stake in Microsoft Corporation by 4.1% in the first quarter. Winslow Evans & Crocker Inc. now owns 49,790 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $3,279,000 after acquiring an additional 1,948 shares during the last quarter. Atria Investments LLC lifted its stake in Microsoft Corporation by 8.5% in the first quarter. Atria Investments LLC now owns 141,762 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $9,336,000 after acquiring an additional 11,115 shares during the last quarter. Town & Country Bank & Trust CO dba First Bankers Trust CO lifted its stake in Microsoft Corporation by 1.1% in the first quarter. Town & Country Bank & Trust CO dba First Bankers Trust CO now owns 67,371 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $4,437,000 after acquiring an additional 758 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Baldwin Brothers Inc. MA lifted its stake in Microsoft Corporation by 7.5% in the first quarter. Baldwin Brothers Inc. MA now owns 201,434 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $13,267,000 after acquiring an additional 13,969 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 73.35% of the company’s stock.

About Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft Corporation is a technology company. The Company develops, licenses, and supports a range of software products, services and devices. The Company’s segments include Productivity and Business Processes, Intelligent Cloud and More Personal Computing. The Company’s products include operating systems; cross-device productivity applications; server applications; business solution applications; desktop and server management tools; software development tools; video games, and training and certification of computer system integrators and developers.

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