Buy Microsoft Ahead of Windows 8

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Wall Street has an insatiable appetite for growth and no other sector has been able to satisfy such cravings better than technology. So it is only right that techs have long enjoyed above-average, if not shocking, valuations.

However, high fliers come with high expectations to perform, as justification for these valuations. Some such as Apple ( AAPL) and Amazon ( AMZN) have been able to do this better than others, while names like Cisco ( CSCO) continue to find it difficult to get past the " prove it to us" attitude of Wall Street.

Booting Up Windows 8

What is clear in these situations is that Wall Street is quick to punish companies unable to meet such inflated expectations -- regardless of how ridiculous they might have been from the start. And remarkably there are instances where if expectations were merely met, companies are still chastised for not having blown away the numbers.

So what does one do as an investor in these companies? Do you follow the herd and look beyond what might actually have been a good performance or do you intelligently stick to your guns and appreciate that sometimes the market behaves irrationally? Fairly or unfairly, this is where software giant Microsoft ( MSFT) has found itself. However, there is reason to suspect that Windows 8 is about to change its fortunes.

Part of the reason investors distrust that Microsoft can get this launch right is that Wall Street does not particularly care for the company's management -- and this has been evident for quite some time.

Growth is the primary driver of the stock market and has not been something that Microsoft has produced in sufficient quantities. For management, this provides an opportunity to make up for past launch debacles and exorcise memories of Windows Vista. It could serve to restore some of the respect and trust that the company has lost from investors over the past decade.

What should excite investors is the fact that Microsoft is now doing its part to secure its brand as well as its future. Though it continues to maneuver (without complaint) in the shadows of Apple and Google ( GOOG), the best way to assess Microsoft and its value is by using on its own performance.

As I have said recently, today's version of the company is far different from what it was 15 years ago at the height of the PC industry. This time Microsoft has invested its resources and R&D toward a renewed commitment to giving consumers what they want -- and then some.

The company that built the previous operating systems and forced corporate enterprises to conform or die has transitioned into one that seeks to embrace opportunities to expand growth outside the traditional PC and into the realm of mobility.

To that end, it has partnered with ARM Holdings ( ARMH) to employ its chip technology into Windows 8. Furthermore, it enjoys a premium brand that not only dominates a segment of the market but has the potential to branch off further into emerging growth markets.

Bottom Line

While Microsoft is far from a flawless stock, it is not the huge disappointment that some investors make it out to be. Granted there has been a considerable amount of stagnation in the share price in recent years, however a lot of that has had to do with the lofty tech-bubble valuations that the stock enjoyed.

Today, the company is a cash-producing machine and on that basis alone the stock is tremendously discounted and has not grown commensurate to its earnings.

Investors who are looking for value should really consider Microsoft at current levels. In fact, even at $32 patient investors can still earn 60% more upside in the stock over the next two-and-a-half years -- essentially putting the value at $52 per share. However, in the near term it is not out of the question to expect Windows 8 to add at least $8 to the share price.

At the time of publication, the author was long MSFT, AAPL and holds no position in any of the other stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.