Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued on Wednesday. The brokerage currently has a $99.00 target price on the software giant’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective suggests a potential upside of 9.83% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Microsoft, a software company, have outperformed the industry it belongs to over the past one year. The company is dealing with the recent security bug which poses a huge risk for users.  In this context, it is rolling out patches to fix Windows kernels in order to address the vulnerability. Additionally, Microsoft’s recent blockchain deals with Hapoalim and Accenture and its Coco framework are tailwinds. We expect rapid adoption of Azure and Office 365 to remain the key catalysts in the near future. 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. However, intense competition from Sony’s PS4 is a headwind.”

A number of other equities research analysts also recently issued reports on the company. Morningstar restated a “neutral” rating on shares of Microsoft in a research note on Monday, October 16th. Evercore ISI boosted their price target on Microsoft from $93.00 to $106.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research note on Friday, December 8th. UBS Group set a $105.00 price target on Microsoft and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, November 9th. Royal Bank of Canada restated an “outperform” rating and set a $88.00 price target (up from $85.00) on shares of Microsoft in a research note on Friday, October 27th. Finally, Oppenheimer boosted their price target on Microsoft to $115.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research note on Tuesday, January 9th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have issued a hold rating and thirty-two have assigned a buy rating to the company. Microsoft has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $87.02.

Shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) traded up $1.79 during trading hours on Wednesday, reaching $90.14. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 25,617,020 shares, compared to its average volume of 23,300,000. Microsoft has a fifty-two week low of $62.03 and a fifty-two week high of $90.79. The company has a current ratio of 3.12, a quick ratio of 3.06 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.91. The stock has a market cap of $695,390.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 30.45, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.09 and a beta of 0.99.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The software giant reported $0.84 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.72 by $0.12. The business had revenue of $24.50 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $23.57 billion. Microsoft had a return on equity of 35.23% and a net margin of 24.56%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 11.7% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.76 EPS. sell-side analysts anticipate that Microsoft will post 3.39 EPS for the current year.

In other news, EVP Christopher C. Capossela sold 4,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $83.46, for a total transaction of $333,840.00. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 189,278 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $15,797,141.88. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, insider Frank H. Brod sold 18,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, December 4th. The stock was sold at an average price of $83.15, for a total value of $1,496,700.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 45,000 shares of company stock valued at $3,759,420 over the last 90 days. 1.49% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Capital Research Global Investors raised its holdings in Microsoft by 212.3% during the 2nd quarter. Capital Research Global Investors now owns 69,663,044 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $4,801,874,000 after buying an additional 47,353,245 shares during the period. Janus Henderson Group PLC raised its holdings in Microsoft by 609.4% during the 2nd quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 49,174,883 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $3,389,625,000 after buying an additional 42,243,011 shares during the period. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its holdings in Microsoft by 4.6% during the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 564,052,011 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $38,880,105,000 after buying an additional 25,053,413 shares during the period. Tiger Global Management LLC raised its holdings in Microsoft by 395.2% during the 2nd quarter. Tiger Global Management LLC now owns 10,487,500 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $722,903,000 after buying an additional 8,369,500 shares during the period. Finally, Polen Capital Management LLC purchased a new stake in Microsoft during the 3rd quarter valued at $527,480,000. 73.19% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About Microsoft

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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