Microsoft (MSFT) Lowered to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Microsoft shares have outperformed the industry it belongs to over the past one year. We expect rapid adoption of Azure and Office 365 to remain the key catalysts in the near future. This along with lower spending will drive operating margin expansion in fiscal 2018. We believe that collaborations with the likes of Amazon, Red Hat, Symantec, Cray and PAREXEL are positive for the company's growth prospects. We also believe that Microsoft’s strategic initiatives to enter the augmented reality and virtual reality market with the acquisition of Altspace VR and launch of mixed reality headsets will be positives. Additionally, Microsoft’s recent blockchain deals with Hapoalim and Accenture and its Coco framework are tailwinds. However, intense competition from Sony’s PS4 is a headwind. Additionally, declining PC shipments doesn't bode well for the company.”

MSFT has been the topic of several other reports. Argus raised shares of Microsoft from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and increased their price objective for the company from $57.28 to $95.00 in a research report on Tuesday, October 31st. Goldman Sachs Group set a $92.00 price objective on shares of Microsoft and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Friday, October 27th. Vetr lowered shares of Microsoft from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $78.90 price objective on the stock. in a research report on Monday, October 30th. Barclays reissued an “overweight” rating and issued a $89.00 price objective (up from $82.00) on shares of Microsoft in a research report on Friday, October 27th. Finally, UBS Group set a $105.00 price objective on shares of Microsoft and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Friday, December 8th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and thirty-one have given a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $85.87.

Microsoft (MSFT) traded up $0.41 during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $85.95. 22,481,201 shares of the company’s stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 20,599,301. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.91, a current ratio of 3.12 and a quick ratio of 3.06. Microsoft has a 1 year low of $61.95 and a 1 year high of $87.50. The company has a market capitalization of $666,080.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 29.04, a P/E/G ratio of 1.99 and a beta of 0.99.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The software giant reported $0.84 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.72 by $0.12. Microsoft had a net margin of 24.56% and a return on equity of 35.23%. The firm had revenue of $24.50 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $23.57 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.76 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 11.7% compared to the same quarter last year. sell-side analysts expect that Microsoft will post 3.38 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In other news, EVP Christopher C. Capossela sold 4,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $83.46, for a total value of $333,840.00. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 189,278 shares in the company, valued at approximately $15,797,141.88. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, insider Frank H. Brod sold 18,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, December 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $83.15, for a total transaction of $1,496,700.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 45,000 shares of company stock worth $3,759,420 over the last quarter. Corporate insiders own 1.49% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of MSFT. New Capital Management LP raised its holdings in Microsoft by 0.5% during the 1st quarter. New Capital Management LP now owns 4,305 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $284,000 after purchasing an additional 22 shares during the last quarter. Nottingham Advisors Inc. raised its holdings in Microsoft by 0.4% during the 2nd quarter. Nottingham Advisors Inc. now owns 5,399 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $372,000 after purchasing an additional 22 shares during the last quarter. American Economic Planning Group Inc. ADV raised its holdings in Microsoft by 0.5% during the 2nd quarter. American Economic Planning Group Inc. ADV now owns 4,939 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $340,000 after purchasing an additional 23 shares during the last quarter. Carderock Capital Management Inc. raised its holdings in Microsoft by 0.7% during the 2nd quarter. Carderock Capital Management Inc. now owns 3,981 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $274,000 after purchasing an additional 26 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Appropriate Balance Financial Services Inc. raised its holdings in Microsoft by 4.7% during the 2nd quarter. Appropriate Balance Financial Services Inc. now owns 643 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $9,331,000 after purchasing an additional 29 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 73.16% of the company’s stock.

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Microsoft Company Profile

Microsoft Corporation is a technology company. The Company develops, licenses, and supports a range of software products, services and devices. The Company’s segments include Productivity and Business Processes, Intelligent Cloud and More Personal Computing. The Company’s products include operating systems; cross-device productivity applications; server applications; business solution applications; desktop and server management tools; software development tools; video games, and training and certification of computer system integrators and developers.

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