Gains in Microsoft's (MSFT) intelligent cloud businesses, LinkedIn social network, XBox and other busineses pushed earnings past Wall Street forecasts in its fiscal second quarter, the company said after the market close on Wednesday.
"It all comes down to really having an architectural advantage on what is a new secular trend," CEO Satya Nadella said of the development in cloud and related applications and services during a Wednesday earnings call. New workloads, such as the Internet of things, combine cloud computing with artificial intelligence and other technology Microsoft has developed.
Earnings per share came to $0.96 on a non-Gaap basis, well above forecasts of 87 cents per share, according to analysts polled by FactSet. Revenues increased 12% to $28.9 billion, topping expectations of $28.4 billion.
Shares of Microsoft bounced higher and lower after the report, however, and were down nearly 0.2% at $94.85 following the call.
"The company is one of the few older tech companies who has been able to turn the corner and be relevant in the cloud, commercial AI and IoT," Moor Insight and Strategy analyst Patrick Moorhead said. "Microsoft has a long list of businesses who are doing these kind of activities with them."
Daimler's Mercedes Benz uses Microsoft's mixed-reality technology to train maintenance technicians to repair brakes, Nadella said during the call. Chevron (CVX) uses Azure and Microsoft's Internet of things technology to manage data from oil wells. Kroger (KR) uses the cloud technology to manage prices and promotions in its stores.
Azure cloud revenue grew 98% in the quarter. Microsoft does not break out revenues for the cloud computing unit. Alphabet (GOOGL) and Amazon (AMZN) will provide data on the battle for cloud computing supremacy on Thursday when they report earnings.
Revenues for the larger intelligent cloud business, which contains server products mobile apps and other businesses, grew 15% to $7.8 billion.
The personal computing business, including Windows commercial products and gaming revenue, saw a 2% revenue bump to $12.2 billion.
Sales of productivity products such as Office 365, the Dynamics 365 enterprise applications and LinkedIn rose 25% to $9 bllion.
Microsoft's $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn passed its one-year anniversary during the quarter. Revenues from the social media site grew 475% to $1.3 billion. Sponsored content, marketing solutions and job postings grew, and the company launched a "career advice" feature that connects potential mentors and mentees.
"It's a more strategic asset than we thought even a year ago," CFO Amy Hood said regarding LinkedIn.
Meanwhile, Microsoft said it would take a $13.8 billion net charge from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Much of the company's $142.8 billion in cash and equivalents is overseas, however, and will benefit from the Act's break on repatriation of cash earnings.
When asked how Microsoft would use the funds generated by the "once in a lifetime" break on overseas cash, Hood said the recent shift to cloud, AI and other technology changes was the true one-time windfall for the company.
"When we have seen an opportunity to invest, we have not waited for tax reform," Hood said, noting the purchase of LinkedIn and Microsoft's return of $5 billion to shareholders through buybacks and divdiends.
"I am pleased obviously to be able to access the cash more easily and not have to go through the debt market to make these choices," Hood said.
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