Microsoft earnings preview: What to watch as the most-valuable U.S. company discloses new results

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

Microsoft is again the most-valuable U.S. company — holding a slight lead over Amazon, at least for now — and the company is set to report its most recent quarterly financials Wednesday afternoon, providing the latest glimpse of the company’s evolution under CEO Satya Nadella.

For the big companywide metrics, analysts expect the tech giant to post profits of $1.09 per share, up 9 percent, on $32.5 billion in revenue, up 12.5 percent.

Here are the other themes and numbers we’re looking out for this afternoon:

Holiday season: The last quarter of the calendar year — the second of Microsoft’s fiscal year — is a huge deal for the Surface and gaming divisions.

Less LinkedIn info: Last quarter, Microsoft stopped reporting LinkedIn revenue and profits/losses as it continued to fold the business social network into its organization more than two years after completing the $26 billion acquisition. It still discloses the revenue growth figure, allowing for some back-of-the-napkin math to figure out revenue for the quarter. In the September quarter, LinkedIn’s revenue rose 33 percent, to slightly less than $1.95 billion.

Cloudy with a chance of cash: The financial success of Microsoft’s cloud businesses has provided the fuel for the company’s resurgence in recent years.

A couple key areas to watch are Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud Division — which includes sales of products like Windows Server, Azure, and enterprise services — and commercial cloud, a slightly different key metric for Microsoft over the past few years that also includes the commercial version of Office 365, Dynamics 365 and now commercial LinkedIn services. Those areas boasted annual growth of 24 percent and 47 percent, respectively, last quarter.

Revenue growth from the Azure public cloud computing service slowed last quarter — coming at a heady 76 percent last quarter, but still down from previous quarters where revenue growth ranged from 89 to 99 percent.


More tech earnings: Amazon reports its quarterly results Thursday afternoon, including the outcome of its peak holiday shopping season. Apple stock is up more than 5 percent in trading today after its earnings report revealed record profits Tuesday afternoon.