Microsoft Corporation Earnings, Investor Event Previews

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Microsoft is scheduled to release its next earnings report tomorrow after closing bell. The company has also scheduled an investor event for April 29 in connection with its annual Build developer conference. Management is expected to provide more details regarding Microsoft’s path forward.

What to expect in Microsoft’s earnings report

Tomorrow’s earnings report will cover Microsoft’s third fiscal quarter for 2015. The consensus estimate suggests the company will post earnings of 53 cents per share, excluding items, on $21.14 billion in revenue for the quarter.

UBS analysts Brent Thill and Michael Turrin are ahead of the consensus on revenue at $21.5 billion, which would be a 5.2% growth rate year over year. They’re estimating $20.9 billion in unearned revenue, which would be an increase of 7% compared to last year.

They’re also ahead of the consensus estimate on earnings at 55 cents per share, which would be a decline of 18.3% year over year. The UBS team expects an operating margin of 27.8%.

More clarity wanted Microsoft’s investor event

The UBS analysts also provided a summary of what they expect to hear about at Microsoft’s investor meeting on April 29. For one thing, they want to learn more about the company’s “financial framework,” which they said could help investors understand CEO Satya Nadella’s plan going forward.

They believe investors are having difficulties making projections about Microsoft’s future because management only provides guidance for a single quarter out at a time. As a result, they would like more clarity around how the company is doing financially.

Microsoft’s mobile, cloud plans

The UBS team also said they want to know more about Microsoft’s plan for its mobile offerings. It’s been nearly a year since the company closed the deal to acquire Nokia’s devices division, and so far, Microsoft’s mobile results have been mixed. Windows Phone’s share remains in the same low-single digits it was in while it was under Nokia’s management. Meanwhile Microsoft’s focus on low-priced devices for emerging markets is weighing on margins.

The analysts also want to hear more about the shift to the cloud, including management’s expectations for how long it will take. The segment has been growing rapidly, posting triple-digit revenue growth in each of the last six quarters.

What about PCs?

Another issue Microsoft has been facing is the declining PC and server markets. Investors may want to hear details on how Microsoft can keep moving forward in spite of the trouble in PCs and servers. The UBS analysts think the Microsoft story can keep working in spite of these issues, but investors apparently aren’t convinced. The analysts believe as Microsoft keeps transitioning to a recurring revenue model, it will rely less and less on product-based revenue.

And finally, investors are probably wondering about Microsoft’s consumer business, which has begun to lag as only three of the last ten quarters have brought growth. Meanwhile the company’s enterprise business continues to flourish, leading some to question whether the consumer business is worth staying in.

The UBS analysts continue to rate Microsoft as a Buy with a $49 per share price target. As of this writing, shares of Microsoft were up 0.94% to $43.04 per share.

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