Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Tuesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Microsoft, a software company, have outperformed the industry it belongs to in a year. The company is dealing with the recent security bug which poses a huge risk for users.  In this context, it is rolling out patches to fix Windows kernels in order to address the vulnerability. Additionally, Microsoft’s recent blockchain deals with Hapoalim and Accenture and its Coco framework are tailwinds. We expect rapid adoption of Azure and Office 365 to remain the key catalysts in the near future. 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. However, intense competition from Sony’s PS4 is a headwind.”

Other analysts also recently issued reports about the company. Credit Suisse Group reissued a buy rating and issued a $95.00 price objective on shares of Microsoft in a research note on Friday, October 27th. Morgan Stanley set a $88.00 price target on Microsoft and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Friday, October 27th. Tigress Financial reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of Microsoft in a research report on Tuesday, November 7th. Vetr raised Microsoft from a sell rating to a hold rating and set a $82.07 price target for the company in a research report on Tuesday, October 31st. Finally, Morningstar reaffirmed a neutral rating on shares of Microsoft in a research report on Monday, October 16th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating and thirty have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of Buy and an average target price of $88.32.

Shares of Microsoft (MSFT) traded down $0.10 during trading on Tuesday, hitting $90.00. The stock had a trading volume of 35,612,532 shares, compared to its average volume of 22,670,000. The stock has a market capitalization of $693,540.00, a P/E ratio of 30.41, a PEG ratio of 2.11 and a beta of 0.99. Microsoft has a 12-month low of $62.37 and a 12-month high of $90.79. 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 data on Thursday, October 26th. The software giant reported $0.84 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.72 by $0.12. The firm had revenue of $24.50 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate 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 prior year, the business posted $0.76 earnings per share. equities analysts expect that Microsoft will post 3.39 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, March 8th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, February 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.42 per share. This represents a $1.68 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.87%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, February 14th. Microsoft’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 56.76%.

In other news, insider Frank H. Brod sold 18,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Monday, December 4th. The stock was sold at an average price of $83.15, for a total value of $1,496,700.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Christopher C. Capossela sold 4,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, November 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $83.46, for a total value of $333,840.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 189,278 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $15,797,141.88. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders have sold 45,000 shares of company stock valued at $3,759,420. 1.49% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Several institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Capital Research Global Investors raised its position in shares of Microsoft by 212.3% in the second quarter. Capital Research Global Investors now owns 69,663,044 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $4,801,874,000 after buying an additional 47,353,245 shares in the last quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC raised its position in shares of Microsoft by 609.4% in the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 49,174,883 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $3,389,625,000 after buying an additional 42,243,011 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in shares of Microsoft by 4.6% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 564,052,011 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $38,880,105,000 after buying an additional 25,053,413 shares in the last quarter. Tiger Global Management LLC raised its position in shares of Microsoft by 395.2% in the second quarter. Tiger Global Management LLC now owns 10,487,500 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $722,903,000 after buying an additional 8,369,500 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Polen Capital Management LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Microsoft in the third quarter worth $527,480,000. 73.19% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

COPYRIGHT VIOLATION WARNING: “Microsoft (MSFT) Downgraded to Hold at Zacks Investment Research” was first reported by TheOlympiaReport and is the sole property of of TheOlympiaReport. If you are viewing this piece on another website, it was stolen and reposted in violation of US and international copyright legislation. The legal version of this piece can be accessed at https://theolympiareport.com/2018/01/20/microsoft-msft-downgraded-to-hold-at-zacks-investment-research.html.

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.

Get a free copy of the Zacks research report on Microsoft (MSFT)

For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

Analyst Recommendations for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

Receive News & Ratings for Microsoft Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Microsoft and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.