By bluebay @

Microsoft’s reported quarterly financial results beat Wall Street’s expectations. A big part of the company’s successful quarter was an impressive 62% increase in sales for its Azure cloud computing segment when compared to last year. Tae Kim reports at MarketWatch:

On Thursday, Bernstein analyst Mark Moerdler reaffirmed his Outperform rating for Microsoft shares, citing the company’s stellar earnings report. He also raised his price target for the stock to $203 from $174.

“This was again another strong quarter as Microsoft continues to deliver Commercial Cloud growth as well as growth in numerous other areas,” he wrote. “The cloud story continues to be very strong…probably surprising many investors.”

Microsoft stock was up 3% to $172.99 on Thursday.

Fiscal second-quarter sales in the company’s Azure segment, where its cloud-computing business resides, rose 62% year-over-year.

Stifel analyst Brad Reback also said on Wednesday that Microsoft was clearly benefiting from stronger corporate cloud deal activity over the last few quarters, positioning it for sustainable double-digit growth going forward.

Microsoft’s cloud traction is a big reason why its shares significantly outperformed the market in 2019. The stock rose 55% last year amid investor enthusiasm over the company’s Azure cloud-computing business and its success in selling software subscriptions such as Office 365.

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