Reports are starting to come out that computer giant Microsoft (MSFT) is very close to unveiling a version of its popular Office software suite for Apple’s (AAPL) iPad on March 27th, according to Reuters. The shift in strategy has been long-awaited by some, as the iPad environment represents a huge ecosystem which Microsoft has pretty much glossed over until now.
That is because up until now, MSFT has fought to keep its Office inside the Windows ecosystem, forcing die-hard Office users to get a Windows device in order to use products like Word, PowerPoint, or Excel. This change also seems to be one of new CEO Satya Nadella’s first important initiatives for MSFT, and one that could really change the Microsoft earnings picture in the near term.
Investors appear to be on board with the idea initially, as shares of Microsoft stock rose as much as 4% following the news report, pushing shares of the company up to a 13 year high. Volume was also elevated for Microsoft stock, as far more shares changed hands on the day than in normal trading.
Game Changer for MSFT?
Currently, we have a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) on Microsoft stock, but the estimate trend has been pretty mixed lately. Estimates have nearly universally moved lower in the past sixty days for the current quarter, while the current year estimates have seen a modest raise in the past two months.
Yet according to the Reuters article, analysts believe that MSFT gives up about $2.5 billion a year in revenue by keeping Office off of the iPad, and considering that Office is a very high margin product for Microsoft, this could represent a very lucrative opportunity for MSFT in the near term.
I am personally a big fan of the move, as keeping Office ingrained in a variety of devices seems to be a key way for MSFT to stay strong in the face of a crumbling PC market.
But what do you think?
Is the release of Office on Apple’s tablet king enough to push Microsoft stock to a ‘buy’ in your mind?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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