Several years ago, Microsoft— best known for the Windows operating systems — appeared to be losing its edge. The market was giving a big yawn to most of the company's upgrades to its flagship products, and few new products were being introduced that were noteworthy. Not surprisingly, the stock went nowhere for several years.
Since then, Microsoft has undergone a transformation. The new focus for the company is cloud computing in which customers subscribe to the online software they need rather than buy it outright.
Cloud services are popular because users only pay for what they need, and periodic upgrades are made automatically. Work produced on the cloud is also stored securely and is much more difficult to hack than if it was on a typical home or business computer system.
The advantage of the cloud to Microsoft is it provides the company with an ongoing income stream. Once users commit to doing everything on the cloud using the company's proprietary software, they are unlikely to move anywhere else.
The company is using AI to increase the value of its cloud-based tools in the fields of genomics, precision medicine, language technology, robotics, image recognition, and many more. Adding AI capabilities to its products further reduces the chance that customers will take their business elsewhere.
Growth last year was the strongest in a decade for Microsoft. Its shares also held up better than most amid the recent tech rout. I think this is an opportune time to buy Microsoft, a company that should be an excellent long-term performer.