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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet and International Business Machines

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – July 31, 2017 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN Free Report), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT Free Report), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL Free Report) and International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM Free Report).  

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Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

The Only Direction Cloud Companies Are Going Is Up

We now have earnings reports from all the major cloud infrastructure vendors – Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZNFree Report), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFTFree Report), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGLFree Report) and International Business Machines (NYSE:IBMFree Report) – so it’s time to compare notes on how they did this quarter.

To be fair, they all have huge businesses other than that of selling infrastructure as a service, so overall results aren’t representative, or even indicative of the explosive growth they’re seeing in the cloud. And because of the size of their overall businesses and the way they categorize products, they aren’t bound by regulation to report the cloud business separately.

Amazon Still Leads the Pack

Amazon, being a retailer, can clearly segregate the cloud business from the rest. Being the market leader with head and shoulders above the others, AWS is also of a size that requires separate disclosure. So here we have some numbers: AWS grew 42% over the June quarter of the prior year, which was however less than the 47% increase in related operating expenses. But a $16.4 billion annualized revenue run rate is nothing to scoff at. What’s more, the higher expenses may be expected to fuel continued growth in the future.

For good measure, management listed the new customers in the quarter that included Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics; Hightail, a virtual workspace for creative collaboration and file sharing; and California Polytechnic State University that transferred all of their operations to AWS as well as Discovery Communications, Morningstar, BP and Zillow Group that transferred “significant” portions. It also provided a long list of companies using its AI and machine learning solutions.

In addition to the 16 infrastructure regions (44 availability zones) it now operates, Amazon said that come 2018, it would add another infrastructure region in Hong Kong and a second GovCloud region in the U.S. It would also add 14 availability zones.

Microsoft Isn’t Taking It Easy

Unlike Amazon, Microsoft doesn’t put all of its cloud business neatly into a separate segment and instead, tries to convince investors that all of its businesses are increasingly geared for the cloud. But other than the segmental discussion, it does tell us about its infrastructure business (Azure), which in the last quarter jumped 97% (98% in constant currency). Azure’s growth rate is higher than AWS’s but Azure includes both IaaS and PaaS, so the two aren’t exact comparables.

The company is also seeing momentum in Office 365, the SaaS version of its Word, Excel and other productivity software, which grew 43% and is seeing strong interest in Microsoft 365 Enterprise (a bundled subscription for Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security) with a business version set to launch later this fall.

Microsoft’s customer list for the quarter included AXA Global, KPMG, Dun & Bradstreet, Hearst, Walgreens, T-Mobile, travel technology provider Sabre and Box (for AI) and Baidu (for autonomous driving), and Jet.com (for its distributed database service Azure Cosmos DB). Its ability to provide a hybrid solution, its breadth of offerings across IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, its AI capabilities, existing commercial relationships and installed base remain strengths. Microsoft became the first company to offer cloud services across 40 regions globally.

We Know Less About Google Cloud

Google’s cloud business is smaller and also a very small part of its overall business. So all we got to know this quarter is that GCP is its fastest growing segment, G-Suite continues to grow strongly and that business deals worth more than 500K increased three-folds over the year-ago quarter with growing success at large enterprise customers in regulated sectors. Also, that the company is trying to scale up as quickly as possible and is investing in R&D, sales and marketing to sustain the momentum.

Management also mentioned the expansion of its collaboration with SAP and an important partnership with Nutanix, which will integrate its solutions with Google Cloud and help it provide hybrid solutions using containers and Kubernetes. Google is also expanding its Cloud regions and in the last quarter, added Northern Virginia, Singapore, Sydney and London.

IBM Still Reaching for a Turnaround

IBM said that the company’s cloud revenue on a trailing twelve month basis had crossed $15 billion to nearly 20% of IBM's revenue. IBM generated strategic imperatives, including cloud and analytics revenue of $8.8 billion, which is about 45.6% of the $19.3 billion it generated in the quarter, so the crossover point seems near.

These two categories comprise the bulk of its strategic imperatives effort, so the growth of a respective 17% and 6% from the year-ago quarter was encouraging. The other focus areas are cloud security, mobile and social. IBM’s strength is its ability to leverage the products and relationships in its legacy business.

None of these stocks are buys right now meaning that they don’t have a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or #2 (Buy). But if you’re interested in good stock picks, you may want to check out the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here

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