What To Look For In Microsoft’s Earnings Report

Earnings season is back and there is a massive backlog of results out today, including Microsoft and Apple. The two companies combined are worth comfortably north of $1 trillion.

For Microsoft, the company’s results come on the heels of its stunning $7.6 billion writedown of hardware assets it purchased from Nokia. The impact of that massive impairment will trash Microsoft’s earnings, if measured using normal accounting methods (GAAP).

However, given that the charge is a one-time cost, and a non-cash cost in a sense, investors will gauge Microsoft’s quarter on a non-GAAP, or adjusted basis. Using looser metrics, investors expect Microsoft to earn $0.56 per share, on revenue of $22.06 billion.

The current quarter wraps Microsoft’s fiscal 2015, meaning that the writedown will essentially bork the company’s GAAP earnings performance for the calendar period.

Questions abound. How will Surface perform? In its last quarter, Surface put up $713 million in revenue. What will Microsoft say about its phone business? Will it disgorge any new details about Windows 10, and how it will be monetized? The earnings release, of course, is just 8 days before the official launch date of Windows 10, which will roll out in a staggered fashion.

Also on the plate is cloud. Microsoft predicted this April that its ‘commercial cloud’ business would reach a revenue run rate of $20 billion in its fiscal 2018. Keep in mind that Microsoft has now wrapped its fiscal 2015, so it has around two years to make that mark. Given the timeframe, investors will be staring intently at the company’s cloud run rate growth.

In its sequentially preceding quarter, Microsoft noted that its commercial cloud revenue was coming in at a run rate of $6.3 billion. The delta between that number, and what the company reports today will be a key performance indicator.

Finally, the company’s recent spate of layoffs and employee excisions will likely be a topic. Have the reductions helped Microsoft manage its cost profile to help it boost profit?

Microsoft will drop its new numbers just after 1 pm today. Strap in, it’s report card time.