Microsoft's (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report cloud business could drive yet another earnings beat when the software giant reports its third quarter 2019 earnings next week on April 24.
Beyond this earnings report, the cloud business could be primed to drive the stock higher for the next year or so, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives wrote in a Thursday note in which he raised his price target to $150 from $140. The new price target represents 25% upside from the stock's current level.
Microsoft shares were up 0.2% to $121.96 in trading on Thursday morning.
"[We] are raising our price target from $140 to $150 to reflect our improved checks on MSFT with our expectation that the company will cross the trillion-dollar market cap over the coming months," Ives wrote. Microsoft's current market cap stands at around $932 billion, with shares rising about 20% so far this year.
As for the upcoming earnings report, Ives wrote that "we are expecting Nadella & Co. to post a solid beat across the board on both the top and bottom line as cloud strength on Azure and Office 365 continues to be the fuel in the tank with strong field checks indicating the company could beat commercial cloud expectations by ~3%-4%."
Ives added that "the shift to cloud is a major secular trend and key tailwind that is significantly benefiting MSFT in the field and should continue its momentum heading into 2HFY2019/FY20 based on our checks showing an inflection point of demand is abound."
Microsoft has beaten earnings expectations in each of the last eight quarters. For the upcoming report, analysts are expecting adjusted earnings per share of $1.00 on revenue of $29.85 billion, with $9.3 billion of that revenue expected to come from its intelligent cloud segment.
Ives noted that Azure revenue increased 76% year-over-year in its latest quarter, but that "our recent survey work at Wedbush around cloud spending indicates an acceleration of spending among enterprises into the rest of 2019 around public and hybrid cloud deployments."
He added that much of the cloud business has higher profit margins than other segments, earnings could see even more growth than many expect as the company's cloud business grows.