Microsoft's cloud business will be under the microscope when it reports earnings

Microsoft is slated to announce its financial results for the holiday shopping quarter of 2015 later today, and a lot is riding on the growth of its cloud business.

Here’s the analyst consensus on Microsoft’s quarter:

  • EPS of $0.71 (non-GAAP), flat from last year.
  • Revenue of $25.26 billion, down 4.6% from last year.

Microsoft’s last quarter was the first holiday shopping season where the new Windows 10 operating system was on the market. That’s looking pretty good, with more than 200 million devices already on the new operating system. But a stalling PC market, coupled with Microsoft’s free upgrade offer for Windows 7 and 8 customers, means Windows 10 won’t necessarily translate into a lot of revenue growth.

Strong growth for Microsoft Azure, the company’s cloud computing platform and Amazon Web Services competitor, and Office 365, its cloud-based productivity suite, is important to analysts that Microsoft is on the right track. Both are poised to grow in lucrative enterprise markets.

Analyst firm Bernstein is predicting a huge beat, breaking from the pack with expectations of $0.75 a share on strong cloud results. And Microsoft’s stock is up almost 2% in trading ahead of the earnings announcement.

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