Five years doesn't necessarily qualify as long-term, but for Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), it's long enough for their respective growth initiatives to bear fruit. Of the three, Facebook is unique in that it's not in the midst of a significant shift in business methodology, as Microsoft and Intel are, but still has outstanding growth prospects in the coming years.
It's not too late for Facebook
It'd be easy to suggest that investors who haven't gotten onboard the Facebook train missed their chance. With a year-to-date jump in share price of nearly 40%, how much more upside can there be? Turns out, a lot. In its recently completed Q3 earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined his vision for the succeeding three, five, and 10 years, and the future is looking awfully good.
Over the next three to five years, Zuckerberg intends to drive user growth to over one billion not only on Facebook's primary site -- which already has 1.35 billion monthly average users, or MAUs --but also on its other properties, including WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus Rift, Messenger, and video. That may not appease some investors, in that Zuckerberg's plan is to grow first, and monetize later.
That's not to say that Facebook won't derive some revenues from its multiple properties along the way, it will, but the real fun for investors over the next five years will be when the Facebook experience becomes a seamless collection of its products, each adding significantly to its already growing revenues. If Facebook is worth $100 a share as noted in a recent article, just imagine where its share price will be as Zuckerberg implements his long-term vision?
Microsoft turns the corner
Though he may not have been overly enamored with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's decision to write a check for over $7 billion to acquire Nokia's mobile operations, new chief Satya Nadella has clearly changed his tune. And that's great news for tech investors. Both legs of Nadella's two-pronged approach to pulling Microsoft out of its longtime funk -- mobile and cloud computing -- are beginning to take hold.
There were several things to like about Microsoft's recently announced fiscal year 2015 Q1 financial results, but it was knocking its cloud and mobile units out of the park that had shareholders cheering, and why the next five years look so promising. Continuing its impressive year-over-year growth, Microsoft once again more than doubled its cloud-related revenues, up 128% compared to fiscal year 2014's first quarter.
Unlike some cloud providers that rely on hosting, which has already become a commoditized business, Microsoft's strength lies in its Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, model, and that's why it's winning the cloud wars, and will continue to do so. Though still not a huge piece of Microsoft's revenue pie, last quarter's jump in Surface-related revenues -- to $908 million vs. last year's $400 million -- is a clear indication its new Pro 3 is gaining steam. Expected smartphone user growth in emerging markets, combined with Microsoft's line-up of low-cost devices, will also give its mobile unit a boost in the coming years.
Last, but certainly not least
For many of us Intel fans, last quarter was as much a relief as it was a home run. Yes, the approximately 10% pop in share price has been nice, but even more important were the strides Intel was able to make in its transition efforts. Like Microsoft's Nadella, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich's objective from the get-go was to take Intel, "into the next era." Certainly, Intel and Krzanich have a ways to go, particularly making inroads into smartphones, but that's partially what makes the next five years so intriguing for investors.
Intel's record-breaking quarter included an 8% jump in revenues, a 30% increase in operating income compared to last year, improved margins, and shipping over 100 million microprocessors for the first time ever. Heady stuff, to be sure. But it was the 16% increase in revenue from Intel's Data Center Group that bodes well for the future, because that's where its cloud-related sales are generated. Getting Intel inside smartphones is a continuing challenge, but five years from now? I wouldn't bet against Krzanich.
There are two other upsides to Intel in the coming years. One, while no one expects the PC market to do an about face and begin growing, it does appear to be stabilizing, and Intel owns that market. The long-predicted negative impact of PCs on Intel revenues isn't happening. Secondly, just like Microsoft, Intel offers shareholders a 2.63% dividend yield. Yes, the next five years should be very kind to Intel shareholders.