News headlines about Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) have been trending somewhat positive this week, AlphaOne Sentiment reports. The research firm, a subsidiary of Accern, ranks the sentiment of press coverage by monitoring more than 20 million blog and news sources in real-time. AlphaOne ranks coverage of publicly-traded companies on a scale of negative one to one, with scores nearest to one being the most favorable. Microsoft earned a news sentiment score of 0.03 on AlphaOne’s scale. AlphaOne also gave press coverage about the software giant an impact score of 72 out of 100, indicating that recent press coverage is likely to have an effect on the stock’s share price in the next few days.

Here are some of the media headlines that may have impacted AlphaOne’s rankings:

MSFT has been the topic of a number of research analyst reports. Citigroup Inc raised Microsoft from a “sell” rating to a “neutral” rating and upped their price target for the company from $41.00 to $65.00 in a report on Friday, January 27th. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Microsoft from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, January 13th. Barclays PLC upped their price target on Microsoft from $70.00 to $71.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a report on Friday, January 27th. Vetr downgraded Microsoft from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $67.56 price target on the stock. in a report on Wednesday, March 8th. Finally, Macquarie set a $61.00 price target on Microsoft and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a report on Wednesday, January 25th. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating, twenty-three have assigned a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $67.28.

Shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) traded up 0.71% during trading on Thursday, reaching $65.50. The company had a trading volume of 22,299,477 shares. The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $65.06 and its 200-day moving average price is $62.42. Microsoft has a 52 week low of $48.03 and a 52 week high of $66.35. The company has a market capitalization of $506.15 billion, a PE ratio of 30.82 and a beta of 1.08.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, January 26th. The software giant reported $0.83 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.79 by $0.04. Microsoft had a return on equity of 32.12% and a net margin of 19.57%. The firm had revenue of $26.07 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $25.13 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.78 earnings per share. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 1.5% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts expect that Microsoft will post $2.97 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, June 8th. Investors of record on Thursday, May 18th will be issued a $0.39 dividend. This represents a $1.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.38%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, May 16th. Microsoft’s dividend payout ratio is presently 73.59%.

In related news, insider Frank H. Brod sold 7,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, January 30th. The stock was sold at an average price of $65.35, for a total value of $490,125.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 114,008 shares in the company, valued at $7,450,422.80. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, Director William H. Gates III sold 2,000,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, January 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.11, for a total value of $130,220,000.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 19,623,500 shares of company stock worth $1,253,600,525 over the last quarter. 2.99% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

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About Microsoft

Microsoft Corporation is a technology company. The Company develops, licenses, and supports a range of software products, services and devices. The Company’s segments include Productivity and Business Processes, Intelligent Cloud and More Personal Computing. The Company’s products include operating systems; cross-device productivity applications; server applications; business solution applications; desktop and server management tools; software development tools; video games, and training and certification of computer system integrators and developers.

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