Updated from 12:05 p.m.
Investor belief that Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report was ascending quickly into the cloud had been pushing the company's stock toward its highest elevation in the past 12 months -- $56.85. But Thursday's earnings showed Microsoft didn't have enough wind beneath its wings.
The stock slid just under 7% to $51.92 and will likely remain under pressure as investors digest CFO Amy Hood's forecast that the company's sales in the quarter ending June 30 will come in between $21.7 billion and $22.4 billion. That's below consensus estimates of $23.1 billion and about equal with the $22.2 billion of the same quarter a year earlier.
Microsoft is working to focus on the cloud, making its Azure hosting business the world's second-largest behind Amazon's (AMZN) - Get Report and transforming customers who used to buy a single copy of software into subscribers who receive constant updates via remote Microsoft servers. But progress is slower than expected.
In its current fiscal fourth quarter, Microsoft expects revenue in its Intelligent Cloud division of between $6.5 billion and $6.7 billion. The unit includes Azure, but its Office 365 software is included in the Productivity unit, which should have sales in the final three months equivalent to those at Intelligent Cloud.
In what analysts said was a bright spot, its More Personal Computing division -- Microsoft's largest -- saw sales gain 1% to $9.49 billion and operating profit increase 57% to $1.65 billion. The figures show sales of its Surface tablets and Xbox Live subscriptions are somewhat offsetting declines elsewhere.
Comparisons to the year earlier are difficult, as the categories are new.
The Redmond, Wa.-based business had net income of $3.76 billion in the quarter, or 47 cents per share, compared to $4.99 billion a year earlier while sales fell to $20.53 billion from $21.73 billion.
Microsoft went on the offensive to explain away the miss by pointing out it had deferred $1.5 billion in Windows earnings and had to take a charge for an adjustment to its tax rate which equated to 4 cents per share.
Jim Cramer isn't so sure, saying he would stay away from the company. However, analysts seemed to agree with Microsoft despite grumpy investors.
"While investors wanted more, Microsoft had an impressive quarter and repeated what they did in prior quarters related to the combination of cloud, Azure and Windows," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, in an e-mail.
Consumers ordered 9.6% fewer PCs in the first three months of the year, or 64.8 million, compared to the first quarter of 2015, according to Gartner. The popularity and power of handheld devices has capped the need for desktop and laptop computers since Apple (AAPL) - Get Report introduced the iPhone in 2007.
Each of Microsoft's units showed sales growth in the fiscal third quarter with a mixed bag in operating profit. Sales at its Productivity division rose 1% to 6%, with currency effects removed, to $6.5 billion, while operating profit slipped 21% to $2.99 billion. Revenue at its Intelligent Cloud wing gained 3% to $6.1 billion while operating profit declined 14% to $2.19.
"The Surface sales are very impressive," Moorhead said.