Microsoft Corp. stock was upgraded to a strong buy from market perform by analysts at Raymond James, led by Michael Turits. Turits wrote in a note that the company once looked like the legacy PC software vendor that missed out on mobile, but is now one of the only hyperscale hybrid cloud vendors. He said Microsoft's Azure should be one in a small class of elite cloud vendors alongside Amazon.com Inc.'s Amazon Web Services, Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Oracle Corp. . Turtis forecasts intelligence cloud revenue of about $25 billion in 2016, and 9% compound annual growth rate through 2018. Microsoft Office 365 isn't going anywhere in Turtis' view. "We believe 365 is offering sufficient pricing and cross-platform value to maintain consumer loyalty. Commercial value continues to build with integrations including unified communications and and analytics," Turtis wrote. But Microsoft Windows remains exposed to PC weakness and a declining monetization of the operating system long term, as value moves from infrastructure to applications, Turtis said in his note. Microsoft shares were up a little more than 1.2% in the premarket trade, and are up 16% in the year to date. The S&P 500 index is up 1.5%.
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