Earnings season is now in full swing, and this one is probably the most important in recent memory. High inflation is pushing interest rates upward, hitting the pocket of the consumer, and triggering knock-on effects throughout the economy. Earnings reports can offer key insights into how the corporate sector is coping with these challenges.
Microsoft (MSFT 0.36%) is a great company to monitor because it draws revenue from a healthy mix of consumers and businesses. It just released its full-year results for fiscal 2022 (ended June 30), and while it missed some of Wall Street's expectations, there were definitely bright spots.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq 100 index currently trades in a bear market amid the broader economic uncertainty, which means high-quality stocks like Microsoft are on offer at a discount to their all-time highs. Here's why investors should take this opportunity to buy in.
Microsoft is multidimensional
When the economy is going through a rough patch, one of the best assets a company can have is a diverse portfolio of businesses. Multiple revenue streams can offset the risk of a potential slowdown; when one segment is struggling, another can often pick up the slack.
Microsoft is best known for its Windows operating system and Office 365 document suite, which are used by billions of people around the world. But the company has invested in expanding its footprint to include the professional networking platform LinkedIn, plus it has a growing hardware business that plays host to the Xbox gaming console and the Surface line of notebook computers and tablets.
Xbox was a drag in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, posting a year-over-year revenue drop of 11% on the hardware side and a drop of 7% on the content and services side as consumers spent less time gaming. Surface, however, saw a 10% jump in revenue driven by commercial sales. That could be a sign that organizations are planning to expand, hinting that they might be confident about the economy.
But it's Microsoft's cloud business that drove growth in the fourth quarter and the fiscal 2022 full year. Not to mention, it's now the largest revenue contributor to Microsoft as a whole.
Soaring through the cloud
Microsoft breaks its revenue into three main business categories: productivity and business processes, more personal computing, and intelligent cloud.
Intelligent cloud made up 37.8% of the company's total revenue during fiscal 2022, and that figure has consistently increased in recent years because the segment is growing far more quickly than the rest of Microsoft. It now leads the company's other two categories by revenue.
Intelligent cloud's 25% growth in fiscal 2022 doesn't tell the whole story because, beneath the surface, Microsoft's Azure platform grew by a whopping 45%. Azure provides hundreds of cloud services and solutions to businesses, from data storage to virtual machines to swathes of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to help supercharge its customers' operations.
The fact Azure is growing so quickly indicates that organizations are still investing heavily in technology, which is a good sign of their confidence in the future.
The below chart of Microsoft's total revenue offers a benchmark to compare just how quickly intelligent cloud is growing compared to the company in total.
Microsoft stock has significant long-term potential
Microsoft stock has declined by 18% in 2022, so it's marginally outperforming the Nasdaq 100 index, which is down 22%. The company has so many opportunities on the horizon that investors should consider using this dip as a chance to buy.
For starters, Microsoft is competing with Amazon for the top spot in the entire cloud industry. They're fighting for a slice of what could be a $1.5 trillion annual opportunity by 2030, according to Grandview Research, so Microsoft's intelligent cloud segment is likely to continue outperforming the rest of the company in the years to come.
Microsoft also plans to acquire video game developer Activision Blizzard for over $68 billion. The studio is responsible for blockbuster titles like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, and if the deal is soon approved by regulators as anticipated, it will add a whole new dimension to Microsoft's gaming business and further diversify the company overall.
Microsoft generated $72.7 billion in net income (profit) during fiscal 2022, which translates to $9.65 in earnings per share. That places its stock at a price-to-earnings multiple of 27.8, only a slight 8% premium to the Nasdaq 100 index's multiple of 25.7.
Since Microsoft stock was listed on the public markets in 1986, it has generated a return of over 268,000%. That could've turned an investment of $10,000 into $26.8 million had you held on. Given the company's potential from here, there's a strong argument for the stock continuing to heavily outperform the broader tech market and, therefore, trade much higher than where it is right now.