In after-hours trading, the stock reaches all-time high levels, reflecting solid growth the company is recording in its cloud-computing business.
Microsoft shares were poised to set all-time highs Friday after the latest evidence of the company’s success in rebuilding itself as a cloud-computing power.
The Redmond company on Thursday blew past analysts’ expectations for its quarterly earnings, posting an adjusted profit of 76 cents a share, well above Wall Street analysts’ expectations for 68 cents a share.
In after-hours trading late Thursday, Microsoft shares climbed nearly 6 percent, exceeding $60 a share and reaching above the all-time highs set during the dot-com boom in December 1999. If the stock ends Friday’s regular trading session at those levels, it would top Microsoft’s record closing price of $59.56, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
With a stagnant personal-computer market hampering Microsoft’s traditional Windows and Office cash cows, the company has spent billions of dollars in recent years reshaping itself into a seller of on-demand software and computing power over the internet.
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Investors have cheered Microsoft’s progress in that aim, particularly compared to the struggles other business technology giants, including IBM and Oracle, have had in navigating similar transitions.
Microsoft’s “commercial cloud” — primarily business sales of Office 365 and the Azure network of on-demand computing power — was on pace in September to bring in $13 billion in revenue over the course of a full year, up 59 percent from a year earlier.
“This is their engine of growth,” said Dave Bartoletti, an analyst with technology researcher Forrester. “I don’t think we’re seeing any signs of weakness” in those businesses, he said.
Sales of Microsoft’s Azure, the cloud service the company is building to challenge Amazon.com’s market-leading Amazon Web Services unit, grew 116 percent from a year ago, Microsoft said.
Asked by a financial analyst to contrast Microsoft’s offerings with those of its nearby rival, Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella reiterated the company’s broad sales pitch without directly addressing Amazon.
He said large companies were increasingly turning to Microsoft services to help make their businesses more digital.
“It’s not just the Silicon Valley startups anymore,” Nadella said. “It is the core enterprise that is also becoming a digital company.”
Sales in Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud segment, which includes server software and Azure, grew 8 percent from a year earlier, to $6.4 billion for the three months ended Sept. 30, the first quarter of Microsoft’s fiscal 2017.
Productivity and Business Processes, home to the Office franchise, posted a 6 percent rise in sales, to $6.7 billion driven by growing business sales of the Office 365 web-based productivity suite.
Those gains helped make up for another quarter in which Windows, formerly the engine of Microsoft’s growth, remained stuck in neutral. Revenue in Microsoft’s More Personal Computing segment fell 2 percent, to $9.3 billion.
Microsoft’s adjusted revenue was $22.3 billion, up 3 percent from a year earlier.
That figure includes about $1.9 billion in sales of the Windows 10 operating system that Microsoft officially defers to future years to comply with accounting rules.
The company recognizes Windows revenue over a multiyear period designed to line up with the lifetime of the computer the software is installed on.
Stripping out those deferred Windows sales, revenue during the quarter was $20.45 billion, little changed from a year earlier. Net income was $4.69 billion, down 4 percent.
On that basis, per share income was 60 cents a share, compared with 61 cents a share a year ago.
Microsoft shares had finished the regular session on Thursday at $57.25, down 0.5 percent. The quarterly report was released after the market closed regular trading.