Investors are counting on Satya Nadella's firm, which now has a trillion dollar-plus market cap, to beat estimates once more when its September quarter (fiscal first quarter) earnings report arrives on Wednesday. Currently, the consensus among analysts polled by FactSet is for revenue of $32.15 billion (up 10.5% annually) and GAAP and non-GAAP EPS of $1.24 (up 9%).
Microsoft also provides sales guidance on its earnings calls, albeit with a tendency to guide conservatively. For the seasonally strong December quarter, the consensus is for revenue of $35.9 billion (up 10.6%).
TheStreet will be live-blogging Microsoft's report, which should arrive after the bell on Wednesday, along with an earnings call set for 5:30 P.M. Eastern Time. Here are some things for investors to keep an eye on:
1. Azure's Growth Rate
Though its growth has slowed a little in recent quarters, Microsoft's Azure cloud platform is still taking share in a public cloud services market that itself is still seeing healthy double-digit growth. In July, Microsoft reported that Azure revenue rose 64% annually in the June quarter, following 73% growth in the May quarter.
Unlike Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report with AWS, Microsoft doesn't break out Azure's revenue. Deutsche Bank recently estimated Microsoft's Azure revenue would grow 72% in 2019 to $12.86 billion, and 58% next year to $20.36 billion.
2. Office and Dynamics' Enterprise Momentum
With the help of both healthy Office 365 seat growth and greater adoption of costlier enterprise Office 365 plans, Microsoft's commercial Office revenue rose 14% annually in the June quarter (consumer Office revenue, which is smaller, rose by a more modest 6%). It wouldn't be surprising to see Microsoft once more report double-digit Office commercial revenue growth.
Also keep an eye on Microsoft's Dynamics business app sales, which have benefited from strong demand for the company's Dynamics 365 cloud apps among mid-market firms. Total Dynamics revenue rose 12% in the June quarter, with Dynamics 365 growing 45%.
3. Windows Trends
Microsoft's Windows OEM revenue, which is driven by licenses for new PCs, rose 8% in the June quarter thanks to strong business PC upgrade activity ahead of Microsoft's ending of Windows 7 support in January 2020. And the company's Windows commercial products and cloud services revenue, which is driven by direct sales to businesses, grew 13% amid growing adoption of Microsoft 365 subscription plans that cover Windows, Office 365 and security offerings.
The September quarter may have been another solid one for Windows revenue. IDC and Gartner's Q3 data indicates business PC demand remained healthy during the quarter, and CFO Amy Hood struck an upbeat tone on the June quarter call about continued Windows commercial strength.
4. Surface and Xbox
In July, Microsoft guided for its Surface hardware revenue, which rose 14% in the June quarter to $1.35 billion, to be down slightly in the September quarter. With the company having refreshed its Surface lineup in October, December quarter growth should be stronger.
Microsoft also guided for its gaming revenue to be down slightly in the September quarter, with double-digit software and services growth offset by declining sales for the Xbox One ahead of next year's expected console refresh. Hood did indicate gaming growth will be stronger during the second half of fiscal 2020 (ends in June 2020), as Microsoft gets past tough annual comparisons caused by a third-party title (possibly a reference to Fortnite).
LinkedIn has been delivering strong double-digit growth over the last several quarters, and chances are this continued in the September quarter. During the June quarter, LinkedIn revenue rose 25% with the help of a 42% increase in Marketing Solutions (advertising) revenue and 22% user session growth.
6. Bookings Trends
With the qualifier that bookings can be lumpy from quarter to quarter depending on when deals close, Microsoft's bookings trends have been pretty strong thus far in 2019. In the June quarter, commercial bookings rose 22% annually, with Hood noting that large, long-term, Azure deals provided a lift. This in turn helped Microsoft's backlog of revenue that has been contracted but not yet recognized grow 25% to $91 billion.
7. Capital Spending
Microsoft's capital spending, which can also be lumpy and is driven in large part by investments in its data center infrastructure, grew by $1.2 billion annually in the June quarter to $5.3 billion. Hood forecast in July that Microsoft's capex would grow in fiscal 2020, but didn't say by how much.
8. Stock Buybacks
Microsoft spent close to $20 billion on stock buybacks in fiscal 2019. And with the company having added $40 billion to its buyback authorization in September, all signs suggests the company remains eager to direct a healthy portion of its free cash flow towards share repurchases.