Message from media: Be afraid; be very afraid. While many Americans are shopping for Haz-Mat suits and masks, I'll be on the lookout for great deals on possible fear-induced pullbacks not based on fundamentals but rather on unfounded concerns.
Specifically, I have my eye on Microsoft (MSFT 4.20%) and would love to be the beneficiary of Wall Street's incessant fears about oil prices, Europe's slow growth, Ebola, or [insert end of the world scenario here]. Specifically, if Microsoft drops 10% the stock trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 14.5 and would yield roughly 3.2%.
Although revenue comparisons will be tough next year, it's device revenue
The company will have tough comparisons going forward into its new fiscal year that started July 1. Last year, the company boasted of 11.5% revenue growth. However, much of that revenue increase can be attributed to Microsoft's Xbox One rollout, a product Microsoft has stated "[w]e're looking to break even or low margin at worst."
For those following Microsoft's Xbox One, it hasn't been a great year for Microsoft's gaming unit. Earlier this month, Sony's PlayStation 4 announced it had surpassed 10 million units sold vs. Microsoft's 5 million units. And although Microsoft is mounting a comeback after dropping the Kinect peripheral, this falloff is rather shocking after Microsoft sold more units than Sony in the previous-gen iterations (Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3).
Devices can be deceiving
If you scan any investing website to read about Microsoft, you constantly hear how poor Microsoft is doing in devices. Between the aforementioned Xbox One, the struggling Windows Phone and the beleaguered Surface tablet, many point toward a company struggling in devices. In a way, that's indicative of Microsoft's poor messaging strategy and technology finance coverage.
If you go to Microsoft's website, the company clearly emphasizes devices by displaying the Surface Pro 3, the Windows Phone, and the Xbox One. And that makes sense; we all love devices -- they're tangible and easy to discuss -- but it's not essential for Microsoft to be a huge device player. Last year, Microsoft's "Devices and Consumer Hardware" segment only provided 13.4% of revenue. For proper perspective, Apple's iPhone alone provides the company with 50% of revenue.
Queue the transition
Recently, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella attempted to modify former CEO Steve Ballmer's classification of Microsoft as a "devices and services" company by referring to Microsoft as a "mobile first, cloud first" company. Although some feel this is a rather semantical change, it is important for Nadella to communicate Microsoft's excellent performance in the cloud.
And as far as growth is concerned, the cloud is where investors should look. Matter of fact, on a year-over-year basis, Microsoft's commercial other division increased 33% due to the company reporting an amazing commercial cloud revenue increase of 116%. Microsoft reports its quarterly earnings Thursday, Oct. 23, investors should intently focus on its commercial other division.
In a way, America is suffering from too much data with much of it overly bearish. When confronted with the drumbeat about our poor economy, Ebola, or the surging Vix -- ask yourself what does this have to do with buying high-quality businesses long term: The answer will probably be not much. Warren Buffett once said, "[b]e fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful." If the market continues its swoon I'll be looking to pick up high-yielding, cash-flow minting Microsoft at a discount.