In recent years, one of the biggest themes in the markets has been the technology-sector revival. Companies that were once left for dead, such Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD), have made fools out of doubters. But for me, the biggest standout is Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). Although not the sexiest turnaround story, MSFT stock is the most believable.
If I had made that statement at almost any point during the last decade, I would have been called delusional. Heck, I would have endured the same criticism during much of this decade. If we’re being honest, Microsoft looked completely rudderless. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) dictated the pace, forwarding innovation after innovation. Management at the time was playing follow the leader, and this was reflected in the MSFT stock price.
Now, it seems the table has turned. My colleague Dana Blankenhorn recently remarked that Microsoft is everything International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) once was, and more. I would argue that MSFT currently has the vision and the strategy; nemesis Apple, on the other hand, increasingly looks like a one-trick pony.
Sure, sales of the new iPhone X caused people throughout the world to wait in massive lines, some for days. But worryingly, outside of the iPhone X, other Apple products, including the iPhone 8, have underwhelmed. As another example, the once mighty iPad tablet has been on the decline in recent years.
In other words, without a flagship iPhone, Apple has few exciting developments. That’s the opposite case for Microsoft, and by logical deduction, MSFT stock.
Thanks to Satya Nadella’s takeover in 2014, Microsoft is a well-oiled machine, advantaging new and lucrative opportunities. We could talk all day about the cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). However, one of the biggest tailwinds is its legacy business.
The MSFT Stock Price Rises on Practical Value
Financial analysts long blasted the traditional desktop PC market as being in a death spiral, and I’m guilty as charged. Consumers don’t really care for PCs when they can instead get their hands on the latest smart devices. Those long lines that you’ll soon see at your local Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE:BBY) store will not be for desktop PCs, that I can guarantee.
But we all need to be careful with hyperbole, and again, I’m guilty of this as anyone else. Every reputable analyst firm will tell you that traditional PC sales are declining, and will continue to decline. However, this trend occurs in part because computers today last longer than they ever have; thus, the incentive to replace them is gone, particularly because of smart devices.
Herein lies the opportunity for stakeholders pushing for a higher MSFT stock price. In terms of operating systems, Microsoft owns the vast majority of market share across all devices. But in terms of desktop computers, it’s even more lopsided. While Apple computers are cool and trendy, not too many folks use them. Therefore, even if the PC is dying, they’re at least dying in a Microsoft operating system.
Of course, it goes beyond that. Renowned research firm Gartner forecasts that “ultramobiles,” or high-end compact laptops and “two-in-one” devices will grow substantially. I firmly believe that Microsoft has the edge here, and that it will reflect further in the MSFT stock price.
Let me shoot straight from the hip: Apple’s smart devices are gimmicky. Aside from making phone calls, taking photos, and browsing the web in a jam, I don’t need much else. Moreover, doing any kind of work using a smart device is a real pain.
For anything practical, Microsoft is where we turn.
We Live in a Microsoft World
While anecdotal, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that all my professional platforms used Microsoft. I’ll go so far as to say that we’re a Microsoft society. We write in Microsoft. We spreadsheet in Microsoft. And after the LinkedIn takeover, we job search in Microsoft.
Again, this is the company that dominates the practical and professional realm. Obviously, this is great news for its SaaS business, but also, its cloud business benefits as well. Microsoft applications work seamlessly with other platforms, such as Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE). You just don’t get the same kind of compatibility and interconnectedness with Apple.
Here’s the bottom line: you date Apple, but you marry MSFT stock. I don’t think that Microsoft will ever become a “hot” investment. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be, nor should it. MSFT is about dominating so much that you hardly even notice it.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.