Citi hikes target price on Microsoft stock to $520: Can it reach there?

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On Friday, analysts at Citi increased their target price on Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) from $495 to $520, while reiterating their ‘Buy’ rating.

This upward revision underscores Citi’s confidence in Microsoft’s growth prospects, particularly fueled by its strategic investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and its dominant position in the tech industry.

Dominance in the AI race

Microsoft’s substantial investments in AI, especially through its partnership with OpenAI, have been a significant growth driver.

OpenAI, in which Microsoft holds a substantial stake, has recently seen its annualized revenue soar to $3.4 billion, bolstered by strategic deals like the one with Oracle to expand cloud capacity.

According to Citi analyst Tyler Radke, these developments justify the increased price target, even though there may be some near-term impacts on earnings due to non-operating expenses from the AI investments.

Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives has recently likened Microsoft to a “Bugatti” in the AI race, cruising ahead at high speed compared to competitors like Amazon and Google.

This leadership is attributed to Microsoft’s extensive AI portfolio, including tools like Copilot and its strong enterprise base.

Microsoft continues to strengthen its AI capabilities through strategic partnerships and acquisitions. Recently, the company backed Mistral AI, a promising AI startup, which raised $643 million, pushing its valuation beyond $6 billion.

Gaming and digital innovation

In addition to AI, Microsoft is making significant strides in the gaming industry. Wedbush recently named Microsoft the winner of the “Summer Video Game Events,” thanks to major announcements from its Activision, Bethesda, Blizzard, and Xbox divisions.

The launch of new Xbox consoles and game titles, coupled with the strategic focus on the Xbox Game Pass subscription service, positions Microsoft to capitalize on the growing demand for digital entertainment.

Robust Financial Performance

Microsoft’s financial health remains strong, underpinned by solid revenue and earnings growth. In the recent quarter, the company reported 17% year-over-year revenue growth and a 20% increase in earnings per share.

Key segments like productivity and business processes, which include Office 365, have shown consistent growth, highlighting the company’s ability to generate recurring revenue.

Azure’s 31% growth further cements its status as a leading cloud service provider. With a substantial cash reserve and a net cash position, Microsoft is well-equipped to invest in future growth opportunities.

Analysts’ bullish outlook

Analysts across the board have a favorable outlook on Microsoft. Oppenheimer recently raised its price target to $500, citing Microsoft’s premier position in AI and its comprehensive product ecosystem.

Similarly, New Street Research recently initiated coverage with a Buy rating and a $570 price target, confident in Microsoft’s growth potential even if AI doesn’t reach its anticipated profitability.

However, Microsoft is not without challenges. The company faces regulatory scrutiny over its AI collaborations and acquisitions.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are investigating potential antitrust issues related to Microsoft’s partnerships with OpenAI and other AI startups.

Microsoft’s comprehensive strategy encompassing AI, cloud computing, gaming, and strategic investments positions it well for future growth. Now let’s see what the charts have to say about the stock’s price trajectory. The technical analysis will shed light on whether Microsoft can reach the ambitious $520 target set by Citi.

Bullish momentum across all timeframes

Microsoft’s stock has rallied significantly since the start of 2023, doubling during this period from $220 to above $440. The stock was showing fatigue from this rally a few weeks ago when it was facing short-term resistance near $430.

However, it recently broke above this resistance resuming short-term bullish momentum.

Source: TradingView

Currently, the stock is displaying bullish momentum across all time frames. Hence, it can reach higher levels from here, but investors who haven’t bought the stock yet, must not buy it at current levels.

They should wait for a retracement to around $420 before initiating fresh long positions.

If the stock provides an entry at $420, one can buy it while keeping a stop loss near the recent swing low at $388.

If it doesn’t fall below $388 and resumes its uptrend, we can see it reaching above $500 in coming months.

Traders who want to short the stock must refrain from doing so currently because of the upward momentum.

Fresh short positions should only be considered if the stock falls below its 50-day moving average or the bullish trendline.

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