Mar. 28, 2014, 1:03 PM
- "It was encouraging to have the CEO of Microsoft (MSFT +2.8%) visible in a product strategy discussion, laying out in a transparent way the strategic direction of the company that embraces where users are going ... and breaking away from the Windows and PC-centric focus of the past," writes Nomura's Rick Sherlund, praising yesterday's product announcements.
- Apple uber-fan MG Siegler also likes what he sees. "Microsoft could have released Office [for the iPad] much much much much much sooner. They chose not to. Steve Ballmer chose not to ... I believe Satya Nadella has already put Microsoft in a better place than it has been in years."
- The apps, free in read-only mode, have quickly moved to the top of iPad download charts. Though criticizing a few feature omissions (such as printing support, due in an update), reviewers (I, II, III) have praised the apps' editing tools, touch optimizations, and cloud integration.
- Also of note: 1) Microsoft has made the full versions of its iOS/Android Office smartphone apps completely free for home use, and is promising Android tablet apps are on the way. 2) Though doing so requires giving Apple a 30% cut, Microsoft is allowing free iPad users to upgrade to Office 365 from their devices. Few enterprises are likely to subscribe using an iPad, but some consumers/SMBs might.
- Yesterday: Office iPad apps launched, mobility suite detailed
Mar. 18, 2014, 11:21 AM
- Microsoft's (MSFT +4.1%) reported plans to unveil Office iPad apps on March 27 are not only "directionally positive" for driving Office 365 demand, but are likely part of a broader effort by Satya Nadella to reposition Microsoft as a "mobile first/cloud first company" thinks Nomura's Rick Sherlund, bullish as ever.
- Shares have made new post-Dot.com bubble highs, and are within striking distance of $40.
- The iPad accounted for roughly a third of Q4 tablet shipments, but (from all indications) its enterprise share is much higher. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley observes the iPad Office apps appear set to arrive before Microsoft's touch-friendly Gemini Office Windows apps (expected later this year).
- Separately, Xbox chief product officer and long-time Xbox Live chief Marc Whitten has announced he's leaving to become the product chief of home audio system maker Sonos. Xbox division chief Don Mattrick left last year to become the CEO of Zynga, and another key Xbox exec, Blair Westlake, departed in January in response to the 2013 reorg.
Feb. 12, 2014, 10:55 AM
- By imposing conditions Nokia (NOK -2.6%) deems to be "unacceptable," an Indian court has halted the transfer of Nokia's massive Chennai phone manufacturing plant (employs 30K people) to Microsoft (MSFT +0.9%), and in doing so has further stalled the sale of the former's phone unit to the latter.
- The halt is tied to Nokia's ongoing $1.1B tax dispute with the Indian government. Nokia has responded by appealing to India's Supreme Court. In the meantime, chairman Risto Siilasmaa is meeting with government figures in an attempt to find a resolution.
- Nokia, whose shares are selling off today, once more suggests (previous) its Indian manufacturing ops could be moved elsewhere on account of the dispute. "It seems that working with the tax authorities here in India can be very hard and unpredictable, which is clearly not good for businesses."
- Previous: Indian court lifts freeze on Nokia factory
- Update: Nokia says it doesn't expect the tax dispute to stop the Microsoft deal from closing in Q1.
Jan. 24, 2014, 12:32 PM
- With equities getting routed today, Microsoft (MSFT +2.9%) has given back a chunk of the AH gains it saw following yesterday's FQ2 beat, but is still soundly outperforming.
- By and large, the sell-side is pleased with Microsoft's enterprise strength, hardware sales, and cost controls. Credit Suisse has upped its PT to $42.50 from $40, while predicting Windows profitability and growth will improve in the next two quarters. It also expects Azure/Office 365 will generate "meaningfully higher" lifetime sales and profits than traditional licenses, in spite of near-term revenue cannibalization.
- Jefferies is reiterating a Buy and $42 PT, and sees the "option value" on the Windows business (expected by the firm to decline 7.5%/year perpetually) rising following better-than-feared FQ2 numbers. But Goldman, which has been bearish since April, thinks FY14/FY15 estimates will keep dropping.
- On the CC (transcript), CFO Amy Hood stated the macro environment is "a little better than [Microsoft] thought," and that enterprise Windows sales are benefiting both from Win. 7 upgrades and a shift towards more costly enterprise SKUs.
- She also mentioned Microsoft was able to beat gross margin expectations in spite of a larger hardware mix by lowering costs in other areas, and claimed share gains in database (SQL Server) and systems management software (System Center).
- More on Microsoft's FQ2
Jan. 23, 2014, 5:36 PM
Jan. 23, 2014, 4:05 PM| 12 Comments
Jan. 17, 2014, 11:37 AM
- Intel's (INTC -3.6%) partial blaming of weaker-than-expected Q4 server CPU division sales (revenue +8% Y/Y, but volumes only +1% Y/Y and -3% Q/Q) on a government shutdown comes across as a "bad excuse," thinks FBR.
- Though reiterating an Outperform, FBR is skeptical about Intel's long-term 15% revenue CAGR target for its server CPU division. Bernstein questioned the division's growth outlook yesterday afternoon.
- Goldman, reiterating a Sell (previous), says Intel's numbers "confirm our view that there is downside, not upside, to Intel's 2014 EPS." It's worried about both server CPU sales and a softening corporate PC upgrade cycle (driven by the Windows 7 transition) following Q1.
- JPMorgan, which upgraded Intel going into earnings, is defending the company. It's pleased with stabilizing PC demand and dismisses server concerns, given sales have historically been volatile.
- A major headwind faced by Intel's server CPU unit: Server industry revenues have been steadily declining, as demand shifts towards Web/cloud service providers with bigger economies of scale and a penchant for using cheap white-label hardware. IDC estimates total server sales fell 3.7% Y/Y in Q3, and that x86 server sales rose just 2.8%.
- Microsoft (MSFT -1.6%) and AMD (AMD -1.1%) are ticking lower following Intel's report. So are server virtualization kingpin VMware (VMW -1.9%), parent EMC (EMC -0.9%), and rival Citrix (CTXS -0.8%). Intel suggested on its CC virtualization growth is softening.
- More on Intel's Q4, CC transcript
Jan. 14, 2014, 5:42 PM
- PC industry names outperformed amid a broader tech rally, aided by a JPMorgan Intel (INTC +4%) note that argued PC demand is stabilizing, and tablet cannibalization diminishing. A number of chip stocks also rallied strongly (SOXX +2.1%).
- Also: Major hard drive suspension assembly maker Hutchinson has reported above-consensus Dec. quarter sales, while citing strong demand for 2.5" notebook drive assemblies. Seagate and Western Digital both rallied.
- JPMorgan's Christopher Danely, who upgraded Intel to Overweight, has raised his 2014 estimates soundly above consensus ahead of the chip giant's Thursday Q4 report. Danely notes Intel, Microsoft, H-P, and others have said PC demand is improving, and that Taiwan's big-4 notebook contract manufacturers collectively grew their shipments 7% Q/Q in Q4. Q1 shipments are expected to drop in-line with seasonality.
- He also points out tablet shipment growth is decelerating, and forecasts shipments will only rise 25% in 2014 (down from 53% in 2013).
- Danely's optimism contrasts with another bearish Intel note from Bernstein's Stacy Rasgon, who estimates five mobile CPU sales are needed to make up for one PC CPU sale, and doubts Intel's foundry business will move the needle.
- PC industry gainers: MSFT +2.3%. HPQ +2.6%. AMD +4.1%. NVDA +3.1%.
- Chip ETFs: SMH, XSD, PSI, SOXL, USD, SOXS, SSG
- Previous: Goldman on Intel's Q4, Gartner/IDC's Q4 PC estimates, Intel's light 2014 guidance
Jan. 10, 2014, 9:44 AM
- Microsoft (MSFT +1.2%) has been upgraded to Overweight by Jefferies. The upgrade follows a moderate drop caused by disappointment Alan Mulally is no longer a CEO candidate.
- BlackBerry (BBRY +1.1%) has been upgraded to Sector Perform by RBC. Shares have already seen a big run-up since the company's FQ3 report.
- Baidu (BIDU +1.3%) has been upgraded to Buy by Maxim.
- Micron (MU +0.2%) has been upgraded to Buy by Jefferson Research, and started at Buy by Argus and Sterne Agee. The moves come two days after shares blasted off in response to a very strong FQ1 report (I, II).
- Splunk (SPLK -2.1%) has been cut to Equal Weight by Barclays. The downgrade shortly follows a UBS upgrade to Buy. SA Pro contributor ZNCapital recently took aim at Splunk's valuation.
- Ambarella (AMBA -1.8%) has been cut to Hold by Deutsche. Needham cut the chipmaker to Hold two days ago.
- Marvell (MRVL +1.9%) has been started at Buy by MKM.
- Qlik (QLIK +2.1%) has been upgraded to Buy by Jefferies.
Jan. 7, 2014, 1:30 PM
- Sony (SNE +0.1%) announces at CES PlayStation 4 end-user sales (i.e. sell-through) reached 4.2M as of Dec. 28. That figure suggests the PS4 soundly outsold the Xbox One (MSFT - 3M+ sales in 2013) last year, and has a good chance of surpassing Sony's target of 5M FY14 (ends March '14) sales.
- Wider distribution - the PS4 is on sale in 53 countries, the One is only available in 13 - has helped Sony's next-gen console outsell Microsoft's. But so has a lower price tag ($399 vs. $499) and the backlash to the used game restriction and Internet access requirements initially planned for the One (before Microsoft backtracked).
- Sony has also announced the launch of PlayStation Now, its anticipated cloud gaming service. The service, which leverages Gaikai's cloud gaming platform, will provide access to PS2/PS3 titles, and (since it's cloud-based) run on everything from home consoles to TV sets to handheld/mobile devices.
- Also announced: a Web-based TV service that will include VOD content and a cloud-based DVR. However, Sony is short on details for now. Intel and others have taken stab at offering such a service, only to be thwarted by content owners and incumbent pay-TV providers.
- PS4 and Xbox One CPU/GPU supplier AMD (AMD +1.6%) is rallying for the second straight day. Game developers are also higher: EA +3.2%. TTWO +3.2%. ATVI +1.6%.
Jan. 6, 2014, 3:23 PM
- Microsoft (MSFT -2%) takes on a little more water in afternoon action as a Sterne Automotive analyst says Ford's (F +0.6%) board meets on Wednesday and is likely to provide an update regarding the future of CEO Alan Mulally. In the Sterne team's opinion, Mulally isn't going anywhere.
- Previous: Doubts grow over Mulally candidacy due to his lack of technical background.
Dec. 18, 2013, 2:11 PM
- Microsoft (MSFT -1.4%) is down 3% over the last two days, as worries grow (thanks to John Thompson's recent comments) Alan Mulally (F -6.7%) won't be named Steve Ballmer's successor.
- Nomura's Rick Sherlund, who not long ago predicted Mulally would be Microsoft's next CEO, now wonders if the Bill Gates quote included in Thompson's remarks indicates "the board is rethinking the role and looking more exhaustively at candidates from the technology field."
- Moreover, if reports about Ford's board pressing Mulally to give "a definitive answer" regarding his future plans are accurate, Sherlund thinks "he might need to pull his hat out of the ring at some point soon."
- Like others on the Street, he's worried a CEO with an IT background won't be as "shareholder-friendly" as Mulally. Sherlund has previously suggested Mulally might cut costs, boost capital returns, and unload Xbox and Bing.
- However, FBR's Daniel Ives still thinks Mulally has a shot. He observes today's Ford business update contained no discussion of Mulally's plans, as many expected.
Dec. 5, 2013, 10:49 AM
- Ford (F +0.5%) director Edsel Ford II tells Bloomberg Alan Mulally, widely reported to be a top candidate (if not the frontrunner) to replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft's (MSFT -2.4%) CEO, won't be leaving until the end of 2014.
- Microsoft shares, which have rallied more than once following a report that called Mulally a leading candidate, have spiked lower in response to Ford's comments. Ford shares have risen moderately.
Nov. 20, 2013, 3:57 PM
- Microsoft (MSFT +0.9%) is suing Acacia (ACTG -3.9%) in an NY federal court, alleging the IP licensing firm broke a 2010 agreement reached by Japanese subsidiary Access Co. to license various mobile patents.
- Microsoft's move is tied to a series of lawsuits Acacia filed against it in U.S. courts last month, in which Acacia accuses the software giant of infringing over a dozen patents.
- Previous: Acacia jumps after announcing $70M buyback
Oct. 25, 2013, 9:22 AM
Oct. 24, 2013, 4:07 PM
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Microsoft Corp is engaged in designing, manufacturing, selling devices, and online advertising to a global customer audience. Its products include operating systems for computing devices, servers, phones, and other intelligent devices.
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