In early June, as a result of the U.S. Dollar’s strength against other currencies and its impact on exchange rates, Microsoft (MSFT) made some downward revisions to its FQ4 (June quarter) guidance. With the Euro and Yen exchange rates dropping to 20-year lows vs. the U.S. Dollar, the FX headwinds have persisted into June and July.
With this in mind and based on the fact 57% of incremental growth came from outside the United States last year — meaning current FX headwinds could negatively impact FY23’s growth outlook — Piper Sandler 5-star analyst Brent Bracelin thinks it’s time for more downward estimate tweaking.
Therefore, accounting for both FX headwinds and the “potential for a slight moderation in IT spend,” FY23’s revenue growth forecast is lowered to 13.2% year-over-year from the prior 14.5% (a $3.3 billion cut), while the EPS estimate is reduced by $0.21 to $10.30.
That said, developments at Microsoft are not all negative.
The trims come at a during a period when, for the first time, Microsoft Cloud is set to eclipse the $100 billion+ annualized run-rate “milestone,” based on 29% y/y expected growth (~33% ex-FX).
Given Microsoft’s 46% cloud revenue exposure can “help insulate growth even in a contracting business cycle,” and working on the assumption Azure growth “moderates to the low 40% and O365 moderates to the low-to-mid teens,” Bracelin still envisions a scenario where revenue can show double-digit growth.
Further standing in the tech giant’s stead in countering the headwinds is Braeclin’s belief FY22 operating cash flows could rise by 19% year-over-year to more than $91 billion – equating to $7 billion per month.
This should provide the “’King of Cloud’ flexibility to a) further strengthen balance sheet, b) buy back more stock, c) increase dividend payouts, and d) broaden the scope of M&A.”
To this end, Bracelin rates MSFT an Outperform (i.e. Buy), while lowering the price target from $352 to $312. The implication for investors? Upside of 18%. (To watch Bracelin’s track record, click here)
Overall, the Street remains firmly in Microsoft’s corner; barring one skeptic, all other 27 recent analyst reviews are positive, making the consensus view here a Strong Buy. The average price target is more closely aligned with Bracelin’s prior one; at $350.16, the figure makes room for 12-month gains of ~32%. (See MSFT stock forecast on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.