In spite of the recent tech correction, Microsoft's (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report stock is slightly above where it was prior to its strong July earnings report, and up about 25% on the year.
Satya Nadella's company will try to keep its momentum going when it reports its September quarter (fiscal first quarter) after the bell on Wednesday. On average, analysts polled by FactSet expect revenue of $27.88 billion (up 14% annually) and non-GAAP EPS of $0.96 (up 14%).
Microsoft also shares quarterly revenue guidance -- it frequently proves conservative -- on its earnings call. The revenue consensus for the seasonally big December quarter currently stands at $32.21 billion.
Here are some other things to keep an eye on as Microsoft reports and hosts an earnings call at 5:30 P.M. Eastern Time.
1. Office and Dynamics Sales Growth
Revenue growth for both Microsoft's Office productivity suite and Dynamics business apps slowed in the June quarter. However, Microsoft attributed this to an accelerating shift in demand towards its subscription-based Office 365 and Dynamics 365 platforms, relative to traditional software licenses for which revenue is fully recognized up-front.
As a result, Microsoft, which as mentioned before tends to guide conservatively, forecast its Productivity and Business Processes reporting segment, which covers Office, Dynamics and LinkedIn, will see double-digit revenue growth in fiscal 2019 (it ends in June 2019). For the September quarter, the consensus is for Productivity and Business Processes revenue to grow 14% to $9.39 billion.
2. Azure Growth
Revenue for Microsoft's cloud services platform, widely seen as the No. 2 public cloud player behind Amazon Web Services (AWS), grew 89% annually in the June quarter. That helped the company's total server products and cloud services revenue, which also covers server software sales, grow 26%.
The September quarter was likely another strong one for Azure, as Microsoft's efforts to expand Azure's feature set and sell businesses on its hybrid cloud capabilities continue paying off. Unlike Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report with AWS, Microsoft hasn't been breaking out Azure's actual revenue contribution, only its growth rate.
3. Windows Sales to Businesses
With the help of improving business PC demand, Microsoft's Windows OEM Pro revenue rose 14% in the June quarter. And the company's Windows commercial products and cloud services revenue, which includes direct licensing deals with businesses, rose 23%; the timing of revenue recognition for large multi-year deals played a role, but so did double-digit billings growth.
Microsoft has cautioned that its Windows revenue growth will slow in fiscal 2019. And in the near-term, an Intel (INTC) - Get Intel Corporation (INTC) ReportPC CPU shortage could impact sales. However, the Windows business does look healthier than it did a year ago.
4. LinkedIn Growth
LinkedIn has been a standout for Microsoft in 2018: Though its shortcomings have made it a punchline for plenty of jokes, the professional social networking platform has posted 37% revenue growth for two quarters in a row. A strong job market appears to be helping, but the same goes for Microsoft's efforts to boost user engagement and integrate LinkedIn with its products and sales teams.
5. Profit Margin Trends
Microsoft's non-GAAP operating margin rose by three percentage points annually to 34%. Restrained R&D and sales/marketing spending growth helped, as did the fact that the gross margin (GM) for Microsoft's "commercial cloud" offerings, which include Azure and business versions of Office 365, rose by six points to 58%.
Operating margin should continue expanding in the coming quarters, though the pace might fluctuate from one quarter to the next. While Microsoft has been growing its data center capital spending at a healthy clip, spending otherwise remains under control. And the company's commercial cloud GM should tick higher as the scale of its cloud operations continues growing.