The company reports its second quarter results of fiscal 2016 after the market closes Thursday.
With its quarterly earnings report Thursday, Microsoft seems poised for another display of the divergence between the old and the new.
The old, the personal computer, is in trouble.
Microsoft’s Office and Windows software are heavily dependent on sales that accompany a new laptop or desktop purchase. The weak PC market has challenged those business. Sales of PCs slumped 8.3 percent during the last three months of 2015, technology researcher Gartner estimates.
The new, software and computing power sold via the Internet, is growing.
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Microsoft’s cloud-computing unit, which rents processing power and data storage to businesses, has emerged as a major player in that fast-growing business. Meanwhile, Microsoft has found success in nudging customers to buy its Office software through an online subscription.
Analysts think the company brought in 71 cents a share in net income during the three months ended Dec. 31, identical to the previous year. Revenue during the period, the second quarter of Microsoft’s fiscal year, is expected at $25.3 billion, down from $26.5 billion a year earlier.
Because of the PC’s woes, expectations for the company’s performance, and its forecasts for the current quarter, “are relatively muted,” analysts with Jefferies said in a research report.
Investors in recent quarters have largely looked past the stagnant PC market and focused on the stronger performance of Microsoft’s cloud-computing group. Investor-friendly dividend and stock-buyback programs, along with cost cuts that included rounds of layoffs, have also helped brighten Wall Street’s outlook for the company.
“The growth parts of the business that matter continue to perform well,” analysts with RBC Capital Markets said in a note to clients this week.
Microsoft’s shares closed at $51.22 on Wednesday, up 20 percent from a year ago. They’re down 7.7 percent so far in 2016 amid a sell off in global stock markets.