While analysts expect Microsoft’s (MSFT) earnings per share to grow by 11% from $2.72 to $3.04 going into its next fiscal year – impressive for a company Microsoft’s size – its stock price is only expected to rise by about 29% to a high of $40 a share. That is a respectable return — until one considers that some analysts have predicted that Apple’s (AAPL) stock could reach $910 per share in a year’s time – for a return of nearly 60%. Similarly, Microsoft trades at a Price-Earnings (P/E) Ratio of 11 – just half of the 22 P/E that the S&P 500 (of which Microsoft is a component) enjoys.
The value of Microsoft’s shares suggests that the market perceives it as a laggard in the post-PC era. Indeed, critics have generally regarded its offerings as me-too or derivative of other platform while technology observers have questioned Microsoft’s execution. For example, it shuttered its heavily touted Kin (a.k.a. “Project Pink”) line just weeks after launch.
Meanwhile, in the trend-setting US market, its 2-year old Windows Phone software had only a 1.7% share of the Smartphone OS market through the end of the First Quarter, badly trailing Apple’s iOS and Google‘s (GOOG) Android platforms, which hold 32% and 48.5% of the market, respectively.
For all that the market’s mind-share seems tilted in Apple and Google’s favor, rather than seeing Microsoft as a company whose best days are behind it, I see it as a company entering its second act.
To begin with, Microsoft is looking at a radical software offering in the fourth quarter of 2012 with the expected release of Windows 8.To continue reading, click here.