As stocks have trended higher, especially the tech stocks, soared in 2021, we must be reminded that Microsoft is once again one of the top companies in the world by market cap. Apple is number one in the world by market cap, and Microsoft continues to be right behind them.
In October of 2021, Microsoft had bypassed Apple as the largest company by market cap globally, but Apple soon passed them once again. Microsoft is not the same old company we had known back when Bill Gates was in charge. They have changed and have created a more diverse brand and product portfolio leading that change.
Bill Gates stepped down as CEO in 2000 and officially left his full-time role in Microsoft in 2008. Since then, Microsoft has diversified its portfolio to include many more products, including gaming, cloud services, and making Office more business-friendly. Microsoft under Gates was known for two big things: Microsoft Office and Windows; that was the entire portfolio.
Satya Nadella, the current CEO of Microsoft, has revolutionized the software company and has made it a software company with a vision of working with businesses, making gaming a priority, and expanding Azure, its cloud network.
A diverse portfolio of many more products allowed Microsoft to branch out from only MS Office and Windows software and adapt to software technology's future.
Microsoft has adapted to the world of sales in its subscription-based software model. They sell their Microsoft Office products to businesses and consumers, creating a pay-as-you-go subscription-based business model.
In 2020, Microsoft Office made a significant amount of their revenue from subscription-based software compared to 0% in 2000. MS Office at one point brought close to half of the revenue in 2000, but Office is not even 25% of the revenue that Microsoft takes in now, having over $35 billion in revenue each year.
The new software has been revolutionizing businesses. First, they pay for Microsoft Office, and with that, they get Microsoft OneDrive, Teams, and Dynamics. Teams is just a fancy business video chat software like Zoom Video Communications (ZM), but you can only have Teams with Microsoft business accounts.
Dynamics is another software that helps with business computing. It helps with business efficiency and works with customer relationship management or CRM, but it is not one of the top competitors to Salesforce (CRM). However, it has over $3 billion in revenue.
Windows continues to be one of the most widely used software globally. That domination is starting to penetrate other parts of their customers giving them opportunities to dominate other businesses. With the subscription-based model, they will continue to bring in significant revenue, earnings, and cash flow.
Before the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard (ATVI), LinkedIn was Microsoft's largest acquisition. It came in at $26 billion in 2016. Today, LinkedIn makes over $8 billion annually in revenue, up from the $3 billion pre-acquisition. LinkedIn has no major competitors and creates most of its money from job offer advertisements, other advertisements, and cash for LinkedIn premium.
Cloud software has become a bigger space for companies. It has led Microsoft to enter the space and business opportunities through the Azure Cloud system. Microsoft has thus gained a foothold in the cloud space.
Azure Cloud system by Microsoft came out in 2009, and in 2021 the platform had become the second-largest cloud-based service in the world behind Amazon Web Services (AWS). With the cloud service, Microsoft's revenue grew by 48% in quarter 3 of 2021. It has reached a 21% market share and continues to gain more traction in the cloud space.
Azure consists of public, private, and hybrid cloud service products that help to power modern businesses. Dynamics and Azure are contributing to over 31% of Microsoft's revenue. In addition, customers are reaping many benefits through the cloud as it enhances the user experience with Microsoft products.
Microsoft is becoming one of the leaders in the gaming industry. The Xbox is leading the charge with gaming, and Microsoft just made a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 Billion; if government regulators approve the sale, this acquisition will occur in 2023. The purchase would make Microsoft one of the largest gaming companies in the world. They would then own games like Call of Duty, War of Warcraft, and Candy Crush. In addition, making the deal would put them behind Sony and China's Tencent as a top-three gaming company globally.
Microsoft is putting their company in a position to take on the Metaverse. Apple (APPL), Google (GOOG), Meta (FB), and Microsoft are creating technologies for the Metaverse. Satya Nadalla has emphasized that gaming technologies are part of the Metaverse.
If we look at the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, we end up with an overvalued stock compared to Apple and Google. The P/E ratio is 32.0X, making it a bit more overvalued than Apple, which is trading at a valuation of 28.5X, as of this writing. They are close in the P/E ratio, but you would like to see the P/E ratio lower as an investor.
Microsoft is a dividend growth stock that has raised the dividend for 19 consecutive years. The most recent quarterly dividend increase was $0.62 per share from $0.56 per share. The forward annual payout is now $2.48 per share with a conservative payout ratio of about 27%.
The question is whether the hype of Microsoft is worth a buy as this company continues to create a diverse portfolio moving from one business to another. You can see the company dominating competitive markets like gaming and cloud systems. It has also innovated different types of software to help other businesses.
Microsoft's future looks excellent if you are an investor, but the stock is likely overvalued based on the P/E ratio. In addition, the dividend yield is low at 0.84%. This value is less than the average dividend yield of the S&P 500 Index. Suppose individual stocks are too risky for you. In that case, an alternative is to try an excellent ETF or even a tech ETF to gain exposure to Microsoft and other overvalued tech companies.
In many cases, ETFs are market cap-weighted, and Microsoft is one of the top holdings. You can always own a piece of Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Meta through an excellent ETF like an S&P 500 ETF. Microsoft is also a top 10 holding in some of the best dividend growth ETFs. These index funds will help you own a selection of some of the most profitable and most prominent companies in the US.
Author Bio: Dividend Power is a self-taught investor and blogger on dividend growth stocks and financial independence. Some of his writings can be found on Seeking Alpha, TalkMarkets, ValueWalk, The Money Show, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Entrepreneur, FXMag, and leading financial blogs. He also works as a part-time freelance equity analyst with a leading newsletter on dividend stocks. He was recently in the top 1.5% (126 out of over 8,212) of financial bloggers as tracked by TipRanks (an independent analyst tracking site) for his articles on Seeking Alpha.
Disclaimer: Dividend Power is not a licensed or registered investment adviser or broker/dealer. He is not providing you with individual investment advice. Please consult with a licensed investment professional before you invest your money.