After the first week of trading in the new year, the answer to that question isn’t any clearer. But with growth opportunities emerging in the realm of Internet-of-Things, smart-home and the cloud, Microsoft stock – at a forward P/E of just 23 – still looks attractive. With Microsoft's 2.50% annual dividend yield and around $60 billion in net cash, good luck finding a more stable large-cap tech stock. (See also: Microsoft Stock Among Top Cloud Picks in 2017.)
Microsoft stock closed Friday at $62.84, gaining 0.87%. This translates to a rise of 1% from last week’s close of $62.14. As it stands, the shares are now less than 2% away from their 52-week high of $64.10, reached on Dec. 22. The company's quick transition to become a dominant cloud company under CEO Satya Nadella, which has boosted profit margins, has been a major catalyst in Microsoft’s rise. Can the stock’s strong surge continue?
Analysts have issued Microsoft shares a consensus price target of only $65.50, suggesting a 4% premium from Friday's close. On Thursday, citing the strong growth opportunity in the cloud, Pacific Crest analyst Brent Bracelin said that there's still tons of room for stocks like Microsoft to fuel double-digit returns in 2017. (See also: What Will Drive Microsoft Stock in 2017?)
Much of these gains may start in a few weeks, when the company reports fiscal second quarter earnings results. For the quarter that ended December, Microsoft is expected to report earnings per share of 78 cents on revenue of $25.13 billion. Earnings per share are expected to be flat, while the revenue estimate implies a decline of about 2%.
While these aren't breathtaking numbers, much of the revenue and EPS weakness is priced into the company's cloud transition as it lowers its reliance on the PC side of the business. As such, the emergence of Microsoft’s Azure Cloud platform, which is now second only to Amazon.com, Inc.'s (AMZN) dominant AWS, could drive Microsoft shares as high as $70, yielding almost 12% returns as the company doubles down on its cloud capabilities. (See also: Microsoft's Cloud Push, LinkedIn Dominate 2016.)