“We’ve seen two years worth of digital transformation in two months,” Nadella said in a statement.
Analysts expected as much, and that’s one reason Microsoft’s stock is closing in on its all-time high in early February. Its shares have jumped nearly 12 percent since the beginning of the year even as the overall Nasdaq composite index has fallen 1 percent, helping secure Microsoft’s spot as the most valuable public company in the world with a market capitalization of $1.35 trillion.
Microsoft had already seen rapid adoption of its cloud offerings and said in its earnings release that the pandemic hadn’t slowed that down. Usage spiked for several of its cloud-based offerings, including its Teams video chat business and its security software. Teams now has more than 75 million daily active users and tallied more than 200 million meeting participants in a single day, Nadella said during a call with financial analysts Wednesday.
Its Windows PC operating system business, as well as its lineup of Surface computers, benefited from remote work and school mandates. And its Xbox business gained as well, as consumers turned to gaming with other entertainment options limited. Nadella noted that its Xbox Live online gaming service had nearly 90 million monthly active users, and its Xbox Game Pass, which provides access to its game catalogue, had more than 10 million subscribers in the period, both records for the company.
It’s the second bellwether tech company to report financial results in the wake of the pandemic. And like Google parent Alphabet, whose earnings announcement came Tuesday, Microsoft is getting stronger, a sign that the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus may help the biggest tech giants consolidate their power.
“The big get bigger. Scale wins,” Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. analyst Brad Reback said. “These guys have all the right products in place.”
In the quarter that ended March 31, Microsoft earned $10.8 billion, or $1.40 per share, on $35 billion in sales. Earnings jumped 22 percent from the year-ago quarter, while sales grew 15 percent.
Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Market Intelligence expected Microsoft to report per-share earnings of $1.27 on revenue of $33.7 billion.
Notably, revenue from the company’s Intelligent Cloud segment, which includes its Azure cloud computing business, rose 27 percent to $12.3 billion. Microsoft trails only Amazon’s cloud unit, Amazon Web Services, in the market for computing infrastructure that’s delivered over the Internet on a subscription basis.
In the fall, Microsoft’s cloud-computing business beat Amazon for a controversial $10 billion, 10-year cloud contract from the Pentagon. Amazon is challenging that award. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Microsoft noted a few financial setbacks from the pandemic. Supply chain constraints in China held back its Windows and Surface business toward the end of the quarter. And cuts in advertising spending hurt revenue from its LinkedIn professional-networking service and its Web search business.
LinkedIn’s sales growth, which was 21 percent in the quarter, will face “a significant slowdown” to mid-single-digit growth as the job market tightens, Microsoft finance chief Amy Hood said during the analyst call.
And even though Microsoft devoted $3.9 billion in the quarter to capital expenditures, money doled out largely to build massive data centers for its cloud services, the company said it delayed spending related to supply-chain constraints.
Microsoft shares rose during Wednesday’s trading, finishing at $177.43, up 4.5 percent for the day. The company results, posted after the market closed, helped boost shares an additional 2.5 percent in after-hours trading, just shy of its highest close of $181.85, achieved Feb. 10.