Microsoft’s (MSFT) stock rose on Wednesday as the world’s second-largest software firm announced plans to increase its quarterly dividend and buy back more stock.
Microsoft stated that it will pay a 62 cents per share dividend from its fourth-quarter profits, up 11% from the previous level, to shareholders of record on November 18, as well as a $60 billion repurchase program.
Brad Smith, the company’s top legal counsel, was also promoted to vice chairman, making him the company’s second-highest-ranking employee behind Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella.
“This represents Brad’s unique leadership position in dealing with governments and other external stakeholders across the world for the firm, our board of directors, and myself,” Nadella added.
Microsoft shares rose 1.3 percent in early trade to $303.26 per share, bringing the stock’s year-to-date gain to about 36 percent and putting it within striking distance of its all-time high of $305.84 set on August 20.
Microsoft has recovered about 30% after hitting a six-month low in early April, with investors applauding the company’s market-leading cloud computing segment amid the move to at-home and hybrid work models by enterprises across the world, as well as the rapid growth of its new Azure business.
Azure, in fact, is expected to drive Microsoft’s near-term gains, following a 51 percent growth in fourth-quarter sales, which helped the company’s total $46.2 billion top lines grow by 21 percent.
Microsoft hires Amazon’s executive
Microsoft Corp. also lately announced the hiring of a former Amazon.com Inc. cloud leader to lead its cybersecurity efforts, potentially laying the stage for a legal showdown between the two digital behemoths. Charlie Bell, who formerly reported to former Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy and led the technical teams working on AWS’ major software services, will now report to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as an executive vice president.
In an email to staff seen by Bloomberg, Nadella wrote: “Cybersecurity is one of the most demanding challenges of our time – for every person and business on the world – and it is essential to our mission.” “Securing our clients’ digital technology platforms, devices, and clouds is a big vision we are pursuing, and that is what drew Charlie to Microsoft,” he says.
In the last ten months, a slew of catastrophic breaches and ransomware assaults have targeted Microsoft and other firms’ products. Microsoft has been adding security measures to its products, such as Windows and its Azure cloud services, for several years in order to safeguard individual workstations and identify network assaults.
Microsoft has also purchased numerous security businesses and hired people to look for flaws in its own products, assist clients in recovering from cyberattacks, and maintain a lab dubbed the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center, which closely monitors nation-state hackers.