Microsoft posted fiscal fourth quarter earnings on Wednesday, beating Wall Street expectations on both sales and profit for the past three months amid the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. In fact, it appears many of Microsoft’s various divisions are benefiting from the effects of the pandemic, with the shift to remote work and shelter-in-place orders around the world pushing people toward gaming, video conferencing, and other virtual pastimes.
“The last five months have made it clear that tech intensity is the key to business resilience. Organizations that build their own digital capability will recover faster and emerge from this crisis stronger,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. He goes on to say Microsoft is in the unique position of being able to “help every organization transform and reimagine how they meet customer needs,” in other words support remote work in the new reality.
The company says it earned $38.0 billion in revenue this past quarter, up 13 percent from a year ago. Of that amount, $11.2 billion was profit, a 5 percent jump from this time a year ago. The main takeaway: Microsoft’s business is booming, thanks largely to its continued gains in the cloud computing sector and big jumps in Surface and Xbox revenues.
The company’s Intelligent Cloud sector contributed $13.4 billion for the quarter, a 17 percent jump from last year. Most of the gains are thanks to Microsoft’s Azure platform, which grew nearly 50 percent. “Our commercial cloud surpassed $50 billion in annual revenue for the first time this year. And this quarter our Commercial bookings were better than expected, growing 12 percent year-over-year,” Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, said in a statement.
As for Surface and Xbox, it’s clear that, while not as big a moneymaker as Azure or the company's Office and Windows divisions, are still growing considerably. Microsoft says Surface revenue is up almost 30 percent in the past three months from this time a year ago, while Xbox “content and services revenue,” in other words game sales and subscriptions to Xbox Live and other digital content, grew 65 percent. Also helping this quarter are Microsoft's quiet but steady revenue-drivers, including Windows OEM (up 7 percent), Office Commercial (up 5 percent), Office Consumer (up 6 percent), and LinkedIn (up 10 percent).
Thanks to its status as a relatively untouched company during the pandemic, Microsoft’s stock has been soaring and closed on Wednesday at $211.75 per share, just short of its all-time high of $216.38. The company is now the second most valuable in the world, with a market cap of more than $1.6 trillion, narrowly beating Amazon and just slightly under Apple.