Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report released on Tuesday. The firm currently has a $96.00 target price on the software giant’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective points to a potential upside of 12.27% from the stock’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Microsoft shares have outperformed the industry it belongs to on a year-to-date basis. We expect rapid adoption of Azure and Office 365 to remain the key catalysts in the near future. This along with lower spending will drive operating margin expansion in fiscal 2018. We believe that collaborations with the likes of Amazon, Red Hat, Symantec, Cray and PAREXEL are positive for the company's growth prospects. We also believe that Microsoft’s strategic initiatives to enter the augmented reality and virtual reality market with the acquisition of Altspace VR and launch of mixed reality headsets will be positives. Additionally, Microsoft’s recent blockchain deals with Hapoalim and Accenture and its Coco framework are tailwinds. However, intense competition from Sony’s PS4 is a headwind. Additionally, declining PC shipments doesn't bode well for the company.”

A number of other research firms have also weighed in on MSFT. Oppenheimer set a $100.00 price target on shares of Microsoft and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, December 20th. Royal Bank of Canada set a $100.00 target price on shares of Microsoft and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, December 20th. ValuEngine downgraded shares of Microsoft from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, October 2nd. Vetr downgraded shares of Microsoft from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $93.77 target price on the stock. in a research note on Monday, December 11th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $80.00 target price on shares of Microsoft in a research note on Monday, September 18th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and thirty-one have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $85.87.

Shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) traded up $0.01 during mid-day trading on Tuesday, hitting $85.51. The stock had a trading volume of 14,145,301 shares, compared to its average volume of 22,583,053. Microsoft has a one year low of $61.95 and a one year high of $87.50. The firm has a market capitalization of $659,674.63, a price-to-earnings ratio of 29.09, a PEG ratio of 1.99 and a beta of 0.99. The company has a current ratio of 3.12, a quick ratio of 3.06 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.91.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The software giant reported $0.84 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.72 by $0.12. The company had revenue of $24.50 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $23.57 billion. Microsoft had a return on equity of 35.23% and a net margin of 24.56%. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 11.7% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $0.76 earnings per share. equities analysts expect that Microsoft will post 3.38 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In related news, insider Frank H. Brod sold 18,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, December 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $83.15, for a total value of $1,496,700.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, EVP Christopher C. Capossela sold 4,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $83.44, for a total transaction of $333,760.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 184,278 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $15,376,156.32. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 45,000 shares of company stock valued at $3,759,420 in the last quarter. 1.49% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. New Capital Management LP boosted its holdings in shares of Microsoft by 0.5% during the first quarter. New Capital Management LP now owns 4,305 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $284,000 after acquiring an additional 22 shares during the period. Nottingham Advisors Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of Microsoft by 0.4% during the second quarter. Nottingham Advisors Inc. now owns 5,399 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $372,000 after acquiring an additional 22 shares during the period. American Economic Planning Group Inc. ADV raised its stake in shares of Microsoft by 0.5% during the second quarter. American Economic Planning Group Inc. ADV now owns 4,939 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $340,000 after purchasing an additional 23 shares in the last quarter. Carderock Capital Management Inc. raised its stake in shares of Microsoft by 0.7% during the second quarter. Carderock Capital Management Inc. now owns 3,981 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $274,000 after purchasing an additional 26 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Appropriate Balance Financial Services Inc. raised its stake in shares of Microsoft by 4.7% during the second quarter. Appropriate Balance Financial Services Inc. now owns 643 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $9,331,000 after purchasing an additional 29 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 73.16% of the company’s stock.

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About Microsoft

Microsoft Corporation is a technology company. The Company develops, licenses, and supports a range of software products, services and devices. The Company’s segments include Productivity and Business Processes, Intelligent Cloud and More Personal Computing. The Company’s products include operating systems; cross-device productivity applications; server applications; business solution applications; desktop and server management tools; software development tools; video games, and training and certification of computer system integrators and developers.

Analyst Recommendations for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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