Stock Analysis & Ideas

Microsoft Stock: Investor Fears Are Overblown, Says Morgan Stanley

2022 has been tough going for most. The well-known headwinds of unabating high inflation, the measures taken to tame it amidst fears of a full-blown recession have seen even the sturdiest of models come under pressure.

Most have fallen victim to the macro whims, including tech giant Microsoft (MSFT), whose recent September quarter results (F1Q23) were a disappointing affair.

So, where to now? Morgan Stanley analyst Keith Weiss believes investor concerns center around two main issues – margins and revenue growth.

For the former, the bigger-than-anticipated FQ2 operating expense guide suggests the company is reluctant to slash expenses so to “better protect” operating margins. While for the latter, considering the Commercial segment grew 22% cc (constant currency) in FQ1, a revenue outlook of “durable” 20% cc Commercial growth that does not seem to be “de-risked.”

“From our perspective,” says the 5-star analyst, “the two investor concerns go hand in hand. The company still sees a strong (and durable) demand signal around these secular growth opportunities, especially within the Commercial business, which requires continued investments to yield.”

Microsoft wants to maintain current investments so to gain market share, win a larger share of IT budgets as businesses look to consolidate vendors, and maintain strategic long-term positioning rather than cut more drastically to maximize near-term profitability. This is due to its strong competitive positioning in advance of significant secular growth opportunities.

“We largely agree with the strategy here,” opines Weiss, “as the strength of Microsoft’s positioning across key secular growth segments remains unchanged. Mix shift toward faster growing Azure and Dynamics 365 and relatively durable Office 365 growth (in constant currency) help support management’s goal of 20% constant currency growth across its Commercial businesses.”

As such, Weiss, stays “confident in the long-term secular growth story,” and believes that given its positioning, the stock is “relatively under valued” compared to peers.

All told, then, the analyst sticks with an Overweight (i.e., Buy) rating backed by a $307 price target. The implication for investors? Upside of 28% from current levels. (To watch Weiss’s track record, click here)

Most on the Street agree; with 26 Buys against 3 Holds, the stock receives a Strong Buy consensus rating. The forecast calls for one-year gains of ~17%, given the average target stands at $295.38. (See Microsoft stock forecast on TipRanks)

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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