Microsoft beats Q2 earnings on AI, cloud strength

Microsoft (MSFT) announced its second quarter earnings on Tuesday, beating expectations on the top and bottom lines. The company reported adjusted earnings per share of $2.93 on revenue of $62 billion, beating expectations of adjusted EPS of $2.78 on revenue of $61.1 billion.

The beats, however, failed to completely satisfy investors, as the stock moved about 1% lower in premarket rading Wednesday.

Microsoft’s all-important cloud revenue topped out at $33.7 billion, beating estimates of $32.2 billion. The company’s Intelligent Cloud business, which includes its Azure service, came in at $25.8 billion versus expectations of $25.3 billion. According to the company, AI services contributed 6 percentage points of growth to Azure revenue, increasing from 3 percentage points last quarter.

“We’ve moved from talking about AI to applying AI at scale,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “By infusing AI across every layer of our tech stack, we’re winning new customers and helping drive new benefits and productivity gains across every sector.”

Microsoft has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the AI trade, sending shares jumping 50% over the last 12 months and Microsoft’s market capitalization over $3 trillion.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Microsoft was the wealthiest company in the world by market cap, outmuscling longtime rival Apple (AAPL), which has been stung by recent stock downgrades on fears of sluggish iPhone sales in China.

On the productivity side of things, Microsoft’s Productivity and Business Processes revenue hit $19.25 billion, just ahead of estimates of $19.03 billion. The company’s More Personal Computing business, which includes sales of its Windows software and Xbox gaming division, generated $16.89 billion.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 09: Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella speaks during a keynote address by Walmart Inc. President and CEO Doug McMillon during CES 2024 at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas on January 9, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 12 and features about 4,000 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 130,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella during a press event at CES 2024. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images) (Ethan Miller via Getty Images)

Microsoft’s AI efforts permeate nearly every part of its business, and ensuring that pays off is something the company is heavily focused on. So far, it has monetized its AI efforts via generative AI cloud services, its Copilot for Microsoft 365 productivity platform, and its Copilot Pro for consumers.

Earlier this month, the company also opened up its Copilot for Microsoft 365 to all businesses, eliminating a prior requirement that customers needed to have 300 employees or more to sign up for the paid service. Clients pay $30 per user per month for access to the software. Copilot Pro for consumers, meanwhile, costs $20 per month per user, and is meant for consumer customers who want to take advantage of Copilot’s more advanced features.

Microsoft, as well as rivals Google (GOOG, GOOGL) and Amazon (AMZN), have been pouring billions of dollars into AI investments over the last year as they each seek to gain the upper hand in the race to be the AI software leader.

Microsoft grabbed an early lead thanks to its investment in ChatGPT developer OpenAI, but Google and Amazon are gaining ground. Google released its powerful Gemini AI model in December, and, in September, Amazon announced a $4 billion investment in AI company Anthropic giving the cloud giant a minority ownership position in the firm.

But generative AI technology has come under fire recently, as users on X posted AI-generated explicit images of Taylor Swift. The move has prompted more calls for legislation targeting so-called deepfake images and videos.

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Still, it’s unlikely the controversy will slow the AI train. With companies pumping out product announcements related to the technology at a steady pace, and PC and smartphone vendors debuting their own products capable of running generative AI software natively, it’s clear generative AI will be a force throughout 2024.

Daniel Howley is the tech editor at Yahoo Finance. He’s been covering the tech industry since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielHowley.

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