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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)‘s stock had its “average” rating restated by research analysts at Benchmark Co. in a report released on Wednesday, American Banking & Market News reports.

The analysts wrote, “Read this excerpt from a study that made the rounds earlier this month. And then dig a grave in your backyard next to your kid’s dead hamster for Microsoft (MSFT):
Also today, SoftWatch is releasing its benchmark study which analyzes real usage of Microsoft (MS) Office in dozens of enterprises comprising over 150,000 total users. The benchmark shows that on average an employee only spends 48 minutes a day on MS Office applications, most of it on Outlook for email. It also reveals high numbers of inactive users in the organizations; in particular PowerPoint was not being used at all by half of the employees. In addition, most of the users of the other applications used them primarily for viewing and light editing purposes, with only a small number of heavy users: 2% in PowerPoint, 9% in Word and 19% in Excel.
These results are in line with what industry analysts have stated that companies overspend on licenses that are not being used … by transitioning light users from MS Office to Google Apps, companies can save up to 90% on their Microsoft licensing fees. (emphasis added)
That’s a study conducted by an Israeli firm called SoftWatch. And it represents the writing on the wall.
I’m not going to say much more here. Because not much more needs to be said. I’ve already made the case that the one thing that keeps the charade alive for Microsoft an entrenched consumer and enterprise installed base for Office is hanging by a thread. Here’s a background article With or Without Apple, Google Will Crush Microsoft that includes links to even more background.

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I made the call on this a couple of years ago. Google (GOOG), and if it wants to, Apple (AAPL) will eventually put Microsoft, for all intents and purposes, out of business. There’s no passion for Microsoft software among employees and recreational users. No loyalty. No excitement. In fact, it’s just the opposite. There’s angst, disdain and a sense of inconvenience … of going through the motions and using these unwieldy and uninspiring products simply because they’re there. As better solutions such as Google’s suite and Apple’s (hopefully) improving options become more heavily promoted and known, more individuals and businesses will do what needs to be done to unwind from Microsoft.”

Shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) traded down 0.45% during mid-day trading on Wednesday, hitting $40.24. 18,818,712 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. Microsoft has a 52 week low of $30.84 and a 52 week high of $41.66. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $40.01 and its 200-day moving average is $37.9. The company has a market cap of $332.4 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.14. Microsoft also was the recipient of a significant decrease in short interest in April. As of April 30th, there was short interest totalling 78,616,342 shares, a decrease of 13.3% from the April 15th total of 90,644,190 shares. Based on an average trading volume of 35,616,841 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 2.2 days. Approximately 1.0% of the shares of the stock are short sold.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, April 24th. The company reported $0.68 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters consensus estimate of $0.63 by $0.05. The company had revenue of $20.40 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $20.38 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $0.72 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was down .4% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts expect that Microsoft will post $2.69 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In other Microsoft news, Insider G Mason Morfit purchased 2,950,501 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, May 9th. The shares were purchased at an average cost of $39.55 per share, with a total value of $116,692,314.55. The acquisition was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link.

MSFT has been the subject of a number of other recent research reports. Analysts at Zacks reiterated a “neutral” rating on shares of Microsoft in a research note on Friday, April 25th. They now have a $42.00 price target on the stock. Separately, analysts at Oppenheimer raised their price target on shares of Microsoft from $38.00 to $45.00 in a research note on Friday, April 25th. They now have an “outperform” rating on the stock. Finally, analysts at Credit Suisse reiterated an “outperform” rating on shares of Microsoft in a research note on Friday, April 25th. They now have a $47.50 price target on the stock, up previously from $40.00. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, sixteen have issued a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company. Microsoft presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $38.37.

Microsoft Corporation is engaged in developing, licensing and supporting a range of software products and services.

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