Shares of Microsoft soared 5 percent in Tuesday’s extended trading after the company issued a positive income forecast for the year, irrespective of posting disappointing fiscal fourth-quarter earnings results.
Microsoft reported earnings of $2.23 per share, compared to the earnings of $2.29 per share that analysts had forecasted, according to Refinitiv. This was the first time the company’s earnings per share fell below analysts’ forecast since 2016. Revenue for the quarter came in at $5187 billion, falling short of the expectation of $52.44 billion that analysts had expected, according to Refinitiv.
The company experienced the slowest revenue growth since 2020 in the fiscal fourth quarter which ended on the 30th of June, a statement it issued said. Net income rose 2 percent to $16.74 billion.
Unlike Alphabet which failed to provide guidance for the next quarter after it released its earnings results, Microsoft issued guidance of between $49.25 billion to $50.25 billion for the fiscal first quarter. Taking the median range of $49.75 into consideration, that would mean 10 percent revenue growth. Analysts expect revenue of $51.49 billion for fiscal first-quarter revenue, according to Refinitiv. The company also expects a gross margin of 69.86 percent while analysts expect 69.30 percent, according to StreetAccount. The company continues to stand by the forecast for the new 2023 fiscal year which it issued three months ago, irrespective of economic uncertainties.
“We continue to expect double-digit revenue and operating income growth in constant currency and U.S. dollars,” Amy Hood, Microsoft’s finance chief, said on a conference call with analysts. She added that the company would increase the useful life of server and networking equipment from four years to six.
Like other companies, Microsoft also faced the challenge of worsening foreign exchange rates. The company said that this challenge reduced revenue by $595 million and earnings by 4 percent per share. Microsoft had to reduce its quarterly income and revenue guidance for income and revenue in June because of this challenge.
The company’s Intelligent Cloud category which houses Azure public cloud for application hosting, Windows Server, SQL, and enterprise services turned in revenue of $20.91 billion in revenue. Although it is up 20 percent, it fell below the expectation of $21.10 billion, according to StreetAccount.
Unlike Google which didn’t see a significant increase in its cloud business, Microsoft’s Azure and other cloud businesses grew by 40 percent, below the 46 percent it reported in the previous quarter. Analysts also expected growth of 43.4 percent, according to StreetAccount.
Amy Hood, Microsoft’s finance chief, said that the Azure result was one percentage point lower than management had expected because of slower growth in consumption, from services such as computing and storage resources.
The company’s CEO Satya Nadella said that the company has been winning lucrative Azure deals during the conference call with analysts. “We are seeing larger and longer-term commitments and a record number of $100 million-plus and $1 billion-plus deals this quarter,” CEO Satya Nadella said.
The company’s Productivity and Business Processes category which envelopes Office productivity software, Dynamics, and LinkedIn, had a revenue of $16.60 billion. This was up almost 13 percent and slightly below analysts’ expectation of $16.66 billion, according to StreetAccount.
The More Personal Computing segment which covers Windows OS, Xbox video games consoles, the Bing search engine, and Surface devices saw revenue of $14.36 billion in revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter. The company said search and news advertising, excluding traffic-acquisition costs, rose 18% thanks to stronger search volume and revenue per search. Still, a contraction in advertising spending resulted in a $100 million cut to revenue for the search and news advertising and LinkedIn categories.
The company, like many others, was affected by exchange rates. The company reported $126 million in operating revenue related to its decision to halt operations in Russia.