Microsoft, after a long hiatus, is back in the number one spot in The Seattle Times’ ranking of the top 100 publicly traded companies in the Northwest. Previously, the Redmond software company had topped the charts, which first started 24 years ago, in 1991 and 1992. An increase in the revenue, dividends to investors, return on invested capital and cash generation helped Microsoft to the top of the list again.
Microsoft now and then
A lot has changed since the last time Microsoft topped the charts. The tech giant has diversified from making PC operating-system to developing networking and Web tools, server and database systems, business software, and hardware including video games smartphones and tablet PCs. The software giant currently has 110,000 employees, and its total sales are around $85 billion.
Microsoft stock struggled in the last decade or so owing to the dot-com bust and the European antitrust investigations. In the meantime, tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Apple overtook Microsoft to become the most dynamic technology companies.
Microsoft gaining momentum
However, lately, Wall Street has been positive on the prospects of the company. The firm is doing well in enterprise markets, where it sells products and services to big businesses and organizations. Following the lead of Amazon.com, Microsoft made big investments in cloud computing, and these efforts are expected to pay off. Its Azure cloud computing platform is already a major player in the segment. A few months back, Microsoft executives discussed plans to earn $20 billion in sales by 2018 from the company’s package of business-focused Web services
To take the growth story forward, Microsoft appointed Satya Nadella as its third chief executive some time back. The CEO has been a big help in increasing optimism among the stakeholders. “He understands the value should be the applications and the infrastructure. He’s really changing the product architecture,” UBS analyst Brent Thill noted.
Along with a new CEO, a dividend and share repurchase programs by the company also helped the stock to hit a 14-year high last year. In fiscal 2014, Microsoft earned $85 billion in revenue, which got a push from the acquisition of Nokia mobile-phone unit. Net profit for the company came in at $22 billion, which was up marginally from last year’s $21.8 billion. Microsoft shares are trading around $46, and year to date, the stock is down almost 1%.