Microsoft surges toward trillion-dollar value as profits rise

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Microsoft said profits climbed in the past quarter on its cloud and business services as the US technology giant saw its market value close in on the trillion-dollar mark.

Profits in the quarter to March 31 rose 19 per cent to USD8.8 billion on revenues of USD30.8 billion, an increase of 14 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

Microsoft shares gained some three per cent in after-hours trade, pushing it closer to USD1 trillion in value.

It ended the session on Wednesday with a market valuation of some USD960 million, just behind Apple but ahead of Amazon.

In the fiscal third quarter, Microsoft showed its reliance on cloud computing and other business services which now drive its earnings, in contrast to its earlier days when it focussed on consumer PC software.

A robot called ‘Pepper’ is positioned near an entrance to a Microsoft Store location, in Boston. – AP

“Leading organisations of every size in every industry trust the Microsoft cloud,” Chief Executive Satya Nadella said in a statement.

Commercial cloud revenue rose 41 per cent from a year ago to USD9.6 billion, which now makes up nearly a third of sales, Microsoft said.

Some USD10.2 billion in revenue came from the “productivity and business services” unit which includes its Office software suite for both consumers and enterprises, and the LinkedIn professional social network.

The “more personal computing” unit which includes its Windows software, Surface devices and gaming operations generated USD10.6 billion in the quarter.