Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report continues to push further into cloud computing, both with its own software and helping others, but investors will be looking to see if the PC revival seen by others helped the quarter.
PC-centric companies, such as Western Digital (WDC) - Get Report , Seagate (STX) - Get Report and Micron (MU) - Get Report have all seen their stocks jump on better-than-expected earnings, thanks in part to fourth-quarter PC sales. The same could happen for Microsoft and its Windows-related revenue, RBC Capital Markets analyst Ross MacMillan wrote to clients.
"We see areas of conservatism in our model (Azure growth of ~75% Y/Y is a big deceleration from 116% in F1Q17), 2% growth on Server Products (the same growth as F1Q17 on a 4pp easier comp) and Windows revenue should be solid on better PC data," MacMillan penned in a note, previewing earnings.
Research firm Gartner noted that fourth-quarter PC shipments totaled 72.6 million, down 3.7% year-over-year, but there were pockets of strength. The business community, as well as gaming PCs continued to see strength throughout the quarter.
Analysts surveyed by Yahoo! Finance expect the company to earn 78 cents a share on $25.28 billion in revenue for the fiscal second quarter.
In addition to Windows, investors will be looking to see how the continued push into cloud computing, both for Microsoft Office and its competition against Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report and Amazon Web Services, with Microsoft Azure, is going.
Over the past 12 months, shares of Microsoft have gained nearly 20%, excluding dividends, compared to the near 19% gain in the S&P 500.
Here are three ETFs that may benefit if investors like Microsoft's second-quarter results.
iShares U.S. Technology ETF
RBC Capital's MacMillan believes that Microsoft's push to the cloud will be one of the major drivers in the long run for the Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft.
"The transition will continue to play out and we believe ultimately it will drive higher lifetime value per customer and open up new markets to Microsoft (public cloud infrastructure as a service)," the analyst wrote in a research note. "The change will be gradual and our long-term valuation work supports a higher share price, but we acknowledge that some risks exist." MacMillan rates Microsoft outperform with a $65 price target.
Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund
Jefferies analyst John DiFucci wants to see if LinkedIn, which Microsoft acquired in 2016, helps or hurts the company following the acquisition closing.
"[LinkedIn] financials will be layered in for the first time which will also cloud investors' read-through, and integration of such a large asset may elevate the risk profile of the company - or simply provide confusion over the real operations of the company," DiFucci wrote to clients. Jefferies has an underperform rating and a $43 price target on shares.
Fidelity MSCI Information Technology Index ETF
Pacific Crest Securities analyst Brent Bracelin expects to see more strength in Azure, as well as Microsoft's consumer facing businesses, like Office, Surface and Xbox. "Robust demand for Office 365, Azure, Surface and Xbox give us an upward bias to consensus," the analyst wrote in a note to clients. The firm has an overweight rating and a $70 price target on shares.