Microsoft has taken another bite out of Amazon Web Services

Microsoft has taken another bite out of Amazon Web Services’s clear lead in cloud computing, with an acceleration in growth from its Azure cloud platform in the latest quarter. Meanwhile, the software company yesterday scotched any hopes of a big stock buyback following the recent US tax overhaul, even though it is now free to use an overseas cash pile of more than $130 billion. It has borrowed heavily in recent years to make up for the stranded cash, with $89 billion of debt on its balance sheet at the end of last year… Signs that Microsoft has been eating into Amazon’s cloud lead, along with hopes that its profit margins are finally rebounding after a long slide, had already driven a 47 per cent jump in its shares over the past year, compared with a 32 per cent advance in the Nasdaq Composite… Satya Nadella, chief executive, yesterday claimed a technological edge over Amazon, thanks to Microsoft’s history in selling PC and datacentre software… The latest quarterly figures included a 98 per cent jump in revenues at Azure, which has steadily been gaining ground on AWS… The numbers also reinforced hopes that Microsoft’s profit margins have bottomed out after a long slide, and that the company is finally set for a rebound. It reported a gross profit margin of 62 per cent, unchanged from a year before but slightly ahead of expectations, thanks to the cloud improvements.
Richard Waters