It would be easy to think that Microsoft's stock price glory days were behind it, lost with the dot-com bubble and a little song called “Mambo No. 5.” For those who suddenly felt like digging out their flannels, though, there was a good reason behind this: Microsoft shares had an unexpected surge in trading early Friday, and passed a high set way back in 1999.
A gain of 5 percent in early Friday trading propelled Microsoft stock to $60.11, which represented a new high-water mark for the firm. The previous Microsoft high was $58.72, set way back in December 1999. The biggest reason behind this push was a fantastic quarterly report which emerged late Thursday, showing not only an overall surpassing of analyst expectations, but also a huge jump in the Azure cloud business, reaching double previous levels.
While the report also showed that the consumer move away from the standard desktop PC and its standard software accompaniment was still going strong, the gains in other sectors suggested Microsoft had the situation well in hand. First quarter 2017 adjusted earnings reached $0.76 per share, which surpassed the projected $0.68 handily. Personal computing revenues were significantly down, and even gaming took a bit of a loss. Windows original equipment manufacturer (OEM) operations and commercial products, meanwhile, stayed flat.
Productivity and business processes, meanwhile, jumped up 6 percent, reaching $6.7 billion, and intelligent cloud did even better, up 8 percent to $6.4 billion. These gains mean that Microsoft now holds around 10 percent of the total global cloud market, making it a clear competitor for Amazon Web Services, the industry's leader at 30 percent.
Essentially, the market seems to be reacting to Microsoft's increasing product diversity with glad tidings and potloads of new investment. Why not? For a while, people thought Microsoft was doomed because it was going to ride the desktop PC down in flames. Then it brought out gaming and smartphones and a huge new focus on productivity software development and that turned things right around. Sure, the Windows Phone concept turned out to be a disaster fighting against clearly entrenched rivals with nothing more than a big slice of more of the same, but Microsoft was clearly changing to meet the new market challenge. Not every change would pan out, but the effort counted. That was great news for investors, who likely wanted something that could stand up to all this change, and Microsoft's move to make headway in a new market frontier was worth noting.
The market has spoken; Microsoft isn't irrelevant, and it's more than worth considering. Its huge slate of product changes rammed that point home like a meteor dropping from space, and the stock price has responded accordingly.
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