Microsoft Inc. (MSFT) shares have risen 10% this year in the face of choppy equity markets, as enthusiasm about cloud opportunities and healthy IT spending propelled shares to new highs. The software giant will try to add to its gains when it releases its March quarter results after Thursday's close.
For the March quarter, the FactSet consensus is for Microsoft to report revenue of $25.77 billion (up 9% annually) and GAAP EPS of $0.85. The software giant provides quarterly sales guidance (it's usually conservative) on its earnings call; the June quarter revenue consensus is at $28.07 billion (14% growth). A strong IT spending environment should provide a lift.
Here are some key numbers to watch out for:
1. Office revenue growth and metrics - With Office 365's momentum remaining strong, Microsoft's Office commercial revenue grew 10% last quarter, and its Office consumer revenue grew 12% (as usual, no revenue figures were given). The company also reported its Office 365 commercial seats grew 30% annually, and that Office 365 consumer subscriptions rose by 1.2 million sequentially to 29.2 million.
2. Azure revenue growth - Revenue growth for Microsoft's cloud infrastructure and app platform accelerated to 98% in the December quarter from the September quarter's 90%. Microsoft still isn't sharing Azure's revenue, perhaps out of a fear of giving Amazon a talking point.
3. Windows revenue growth - Windows sales were mixed in the December quarter: OEM revenue rose 4%, but commercial products and cloud services revenue fell 4%, thanks in part to a big year-ago deal. Industry research suggests the PC market was flat to slightly down in Q1, with business PCs, which account for a relatively high percentage of Microsoft's Windows revenue, a strong point.
4. LinkedIn revenue - Microsoft reported a better-than-expected $1.3 billion in LinkedIn revenue for the seasonally strong December quarter. For the March quarter, the consensus is for revenue to rise 26% to $1.22 billion.