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

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.”

MSFT has been the topic of several other research reports. Argus upgraded shares of Microsoft from a hold rating to a buy rating and raised their target price for the stock from $57.28 to $95.00 in a report on Tuesday, October 31st. Goldman Sachs Group set a $92.00 target price on shares of Microsoft and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Friday, October 27th. Vetr cut shares of Microsoft from a hold rating to a sell rating and set a $78.90 target price on the stock. in a report on Monday, October 30th. Wells Fargo & Co restated an outperform rating and issued a $100.00 target price (up previously from $90.00) on shares of Microsoft in a report on Friday, January 12th. Finally, Barclays restated an overweight rating and issued a $89.00 target price (up previously from $82.00) on shares of Microsoft in a report on Friday, October 27th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and thirty-one have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $87.88.

Shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) traded down $0.04 on Tuesday, hitting $90.10. 24,159,500 shares of the company traded hands, compared to its average volume of 23,547,850. The company has a market capitalization of $694,310.00, a P/E ratio of 30.44, a P/E/G ratio of 2.11 and a beta of 0.99. The company has a quick ratio of 3.06, a current ratio of 3.12 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.91. Microsoft has a 12 month low of $62.19 and a 12 month high of $90.79.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The software giant reported $0.84 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.72 by $0.12. Microsoft had a net margin of 24.56% and a return on equity of 35.23%. The company had revenue of $24.50 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $23.57 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.76 earnings per share. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 11.7% on a year-over-year basis. equities analysts predict that Microsoft will post 3.39 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, March 8th. Investors of record on Thursday, February 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.42 per share. This represents a $1.68 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.86%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, February 14th. Microsoft’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 56.76%.

In related news, insider Frank H. Brod sold 15,000 shares of Microsoft stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $84.08, for a total transaction of $1,261,200.00. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 116,205 shares in the company, valued at approximately $9,770,516.40. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, EVP Christopher C. Capossela sold 4,000 shares of Microsoft stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $83.48, for a total transaction of $333,920.00. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 185,278 shares in the company, valued at approximately $15,467,007.44. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 45,000 shares of company stock worth $3,759,420. 1.49% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in MSFT. Boltwood Capital Management increased its holdings in shares of Microsoft by 1.1% in the 2nd quarter. Boltwood Capital Management now owns 33,727 shares of the software giant’s stock worth $2,324,000 after buying an additional 375 shares during the last quarter. Stillwater Capital Advisors LLC increased its stake in Microsoft by 1.8% during the 2nd quarter. Stillwater Capital Advisors LLC now owns 171,815 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $11,843,000 after purchasing an additional 3,097 shares in the last quarter. Beacon Financial Group increased its stake in Microsoft by 0.8% during the 2nd quarter. Beacon Financial Group now owns 27,191 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $1,862,000 after purchasing an additional 214 shares in the last quarter. Investmentaktiengesellschaft Fuer Langfristige Investoren TGV increased its stake in Microsoft by 0.3% during the 2nd quarter. Investmentaktiengesellschaft Fuer Langfristige Investoren TGV now owns 1,425,500 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $98,260,000 after purchasing an additional 4,500 shares in the last quarter. Finally, First Command Bank increased its stake in Microsoft by 50.0% during the 2nd quarter. First Command Bank now owns 20,143 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $1,388,000 after purchasing an additional 6,718 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 73.19% of the company’s stock.

ILLEGAL ACTIVITY WARNING: “Zacks Investment Research Downgrades Microsoft (MSFT) to Hold” was published by Daily Political and is owned by of Daily Political. If you are accessing this piece of content on another domain, it was stolen and reposted in violation of international copyright & trademark laws. The correct version of this piece of content can be accessed at https://www.dailypolitical.com/2018/01/19/zacks-investment-research-downgrades-microsoft-msft-to-hold.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.