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3 Big Takeaways From Microsoft's Earnings Call

By Ashraf Eassa - Updated May 1, 2019 at 8:35AM

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The company opened 2019 with a strong report -- here's what investors should be watching.

Microsoft (MSFT -0.26%) is an incredible company that continues to deliver strong business performance and, in turn, value for its shareholders. Last quarter, the tech titan generated $30.6 billion in revenue, up 14% year over year. That revenue growth helped fuel a 25% surge in the company's operating income, which reached an eye-popping $10.3 billion for the quarter.

As usual, it seems that Microsoft's business strength was broad-based. On a year-over-year basis, Microsoft's more personal computing segment enjoyed 8% revenue growth, its productivity and business processes segment saw revenue rise 14%, and the company's intelligent cloud segment saw a 22% surge on the top line.

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore with a slide behind him that reads "Windows 10" and includes his Twitter handle, "@joebelfiore"

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore. Source: Microsoft.

Although these numbers practically speak for themselves, management provided some additional insight into the company's performance on its most recent earnings call. Here are three major highlights from that discussion.

How's LinkedIn doing?

Microsoft closed its $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn back in late 2016. Although large acquisitions in tech are often hit or miss, it's clear that the software giant's social media deal has been a smash hit. The company reported that LinkedIn revenue rose 27% year over year in the quarter "with record levels of engagement highlighted by LinkedIn sessions growth of 24%."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that its LinkedIn business "again exceeded expectations across all lines of business, driven by record levels of engagement in the feed, content shared across the platform, [and] the messages sent this quarter."

He also said that LinkedIn's marketing solutions (in other words, its advertising business) revenue surged 46% in the quarter, observing that "customers are relying on our new pages experience and audience-targeting capabilities to connect with LinkedIn's nearly 630 million members."

Put simply, Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn didn't dull the shine on the latter -- if anything, Microsoft took a solid business and made it even better.

Crushing it in the cloud

Microsoft's Azure cloud computing business is also on fire, growing 73% year over year and fueling a 27% rise in the company's overall server products and cloud services segment.

On the call, Nadella talked up the competitive advantages of its Azure cloud and also provided some interesting data points for investors to chew on. For example, he said "[more] than 95% of the Fortune 500 runs their workloads on our cloud."

Microsoft's chief also highlighted how the company's Azure Internet of Things (IoT) platform "enables customers to build, manage and secure their connected devices." He pointed to the company's recent acquisition of Express Logic, which makes "real time operating systems (RTOS) for IoT and edge devices powered by micro-controller units (MCUs)," as allowing it to bring its "cloud to more than 6 billion MCU-powered endpoints."

Microsoft's cloud business is helping to fuel impressive growth for the company, and investors should be pleased with management's execution here.

Strength in PCs, weakness in gaming

Microsoft's more personal computer business, per CFO Amy Hood, saw "better-than-expected performance" in its Windows operating system business, though that good news was "partially offset by lower-than-expected gaming revenue."

The PC market as a whole, Hood explained, "was stronger than we anticipated, driven by improved chip supply that met both unfulfilled [second-quarter] commercial and premium consumer demand, as well as better-than-expected [third-quarter] commercial demand."

Putting some numbers to that, Hood said that revenue in its Windows OEM Pro grew 15% year over year, while its Windows OEM non-Pro revenue declined 1% during that same time.

As far as gaming went, Hood elaborated on the weakness that the company's efforts here experienced, with "lower-than-expected monetization across third-party titles and console sales." On the bright side, Microsoft saw its Xbox software and services revenue rise 12%, thanks to "continued momentum in Xbox LIVE and Game Pass subscriber growth."

Microsoft continues to be an excellent, well-diversified business that not only has exposure to many of the hottest areas within technology like cloud computing and gaming but also incredible execution. It is one of the best companies on the planet and well positioned for continued success.

Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Ashraf Eassa has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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