After a post-earnings slide, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has seen its stock price recover and gain slightly, but some critics remain unconvinced that the tech giant can justify price multiples that would have been considered cheap ten years ago.
“We consider Microsoft to be overvalued given its high PE and our weak earnings outlook, mostly due to a shift to lower margin cloud services and hardware (Nokia, Xbox & Surface),” writes N. Landell-Mills of Indigo Equity Research, who values Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) at $30, well below its current $45 stock price, in an August 31 report.
Microsoft can’t service both consumer and enterprise markets: Indigo
While Landell-Mills warns that a combination of new reporting structures, the acquisition of Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V), and other special items makes it hard to compare the most recent earnings report with the year before, he is clearly unimpressed with Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) revenue growth. He instead points to slowing organic revenue growth and lower margins as evidence that Microsoft is permanently cooling down. Weak reception of Surface and Windows 8 last year only reinforce his view that Microsoft won’t be able to make large enough gains in either mobile or online markets to make up for its reliance on the mature PC market.
While other analysts have given Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) some slack now that Nadella is at the helm (and it’s clear that Landell-Mills is no fan of former CEO Steve Ballmer), he doesn’t think that it will be able to diversify away from PCs and make multiple audiences happy at the same time.
“The new strategy is handicapped by a continued focus on both consumer and enterprise sectors,” writes Landell-Mills. “This has always been a problem for Microsoft, as it’s hard to excel at servicing both sectors well. We view Microsoft as a digital dinosaur: large, un-innovative that somehow lumbers on.”
Microsoft has 30% downside: Indigo
Even investors who agree that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is overvalued might be surprised by how low Landell-Mills is setting his target. His base case is a 30% drop in stock price, and he thinks that a 39% drop isn’t out of the question.
Part of this is because Landell-Mills believes that stock prices have been inflated in general by QE, and that the market is due for a correction. It’s this combination of expecting a market drop and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to underperform its peers that causes him to forecast such a large drop.