Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Wednesday. Zacks Investment Research currently has $99.00 price target on the software giant’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Microsoft, a software company, have outperformed the industry it belongs to over the past one 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 equities analysts have also issued research reports about the company. Morningstar restated a neutral rating on shares of Microsoft in a research note on Monday, October 16th. Evercore ISI raised their price objective on Microsoft from $93.00 to $106.00 and gave the stock an outperform rating in a research note on Friday, December 8th. UBS Group set a $105.00 price objective on Microsoft and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, November 9th. Royal Bank of Canada restated an outperform rating and set a $88.00 price objective (up previously from $85.00) on shares of Microsoft in a research note on Friday, October 27th. Finally, Oppenheimer raised their price objective on Microsoft to $115.00 and gave the stock an outperform rating in a research note on Tuesday, January 9th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and thirty have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $88.32.

Microsoft (NASDAQ MSFT) opened at $90.00 on Wednesday. The firm 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. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.91, a quick ratio of 3.06 and a current ratio of 3.12. Microsoft has a 52 week low of $62.37 and a 52 week high of $90.79.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The software giant reported $0.84 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.72 by $0.12. The company had revenue of $24.50 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $23.57 billion. Microsoft had a return on equity of 35.23% and a net margin of 24.56%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 11.7% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $0.76 earnings per share. research analysts expect that Microsoft will post 3.39 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently announced 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 of this dividend is Wednesday, February 14th. Microsoft’s payout ratio is presently 56.76%.

In other news, insider Frank H. Brod sold 18,000 shares of Microsoft stock in a transaction dated 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 can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, EVP Christopher C. Capossela sold 4,000 shares of Microsoft stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, November 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $83.44, for a total value of $333,760.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 184,278 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $15,376,156.32. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 45,000 shares of company stock worth $3,759,420 over the last ninety days. Company insiders own 1.49% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. V Wealth Management LLC increased its position in Microsoft by 66.4% in the 4th quarter. V Wealth Management LLC now owns 27,583 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $2,428,000 after buying an additional 11,002 shares in the last quarter. Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services LLC increased its position in Microsoft by 10.7% in the 4th quarter. Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services LLC now owns 43,406 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $3,889,000 after buying an additional 4,183 shares in the last quarter. Ingalls & Snyder LLC increased its position in Microsoft by 2.2% in the 4th quarter. Ingalls & Snyder LLC now owns 369,166 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $31,578,000 after buying an additional 7,960 shares in the last quarter. TRUE Private Wealth Advisors increased its position in Microsoft by 63.9% in the 4th quarter. TRUE Private Wealth Advisors now owns 39,442 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $3,373,000 after buying an additional 15,376 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Personal Capital Advisors Corp increased its position in Microsoft by 7.5% in the 4th quarter. Personal Capital Advisors Corp now owns 415,997 shares of the software giant’s stock valued at $35,584,000 after buying an additional 28,844 shares in the last quarter. 73.19% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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Microsoft Company Profile

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.

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