Traders Expect Microsoft Shares to Rise Before 2019

Traders are confident that at least one tech giant can end the year on a high note.

On Thursday, the Nasdaq continued to fall, losing 1.6% and only just avoiding closing in its first bear market since the Great Recession. 

Another grueling day for big tech stocks, the leaders of the bull market over the past decade, suggests that the trend of rotating into more defensive stocks continues to gain momentum, particularly after the Fed raised interest rates by another quarter point to 2.25-2.5%. and trade tensions between the U.S. and China refuse to go away.

However, amid all this turmoil, traders appear to be banking on one of nation’s biggest tech stalwarts, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), posting a relief rally in the final week of 2018.

On Thursday, Investitute co-founder Pete Najarian told CNBC that investors bet heavily on Microsoft’s share price rising by Dec. 28. Traders bought more than 13,000 Microsoft calls at the December 103 strike price, Najarian said, suggesting that confidence is high that the Redmond, Washington-based company is due a rally over the next week.

Microsoft’s shares rose slightly by 0.29% in pre-market trading.

Washington-based Microsoft is the Dow’s second-best performer this year and one of only 5 components on track to end 2018 with a double-digit gain, CNBC noted.

Despite also falling victim to the market downturn in recent months, Microsoft has so far managed to escape the level of punishment being dished out to some of its higher profile FAANG peers: Facebook Inc. (FB), Apple Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Netflix Inc. (NFLX) and Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL) Google.

On Wednesday, Strategic Wealth Partners’s Mark Tepper became the latest analyst to insist that Microsoft is deserving of this special status. Speaking to CNBC’s Trading Nation, Tepper said the stock is one of the few tech names worth keeping hold of as investors rotate into more defensive assets.

“Within tech what you really have to do is own the names that are going to have above-industry growth levels, and Microsoft is one of those companies,” he said.

Cloud Potential

Tepper claimed that Microsoft’s cloud storage operations, in particular, should help to drive its share price. The analyst described the company’s hybrid solution as a potential game-changer in one of the fastest growing areas of tech.

“Cloud is one of the best spaces to be in, and Microsoft has a really unique offering when it comes to the cloud,” he said. “Microsoft’s hybrid solution … [is] going to lead to double-digit earnings growth over the next several years.”

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