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The clouds part, cash rains on Microsoft's UK money-making machine

Not even Brexit is going to slap our as-a-Service biz

Microsoft's board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.51 per share this week as its UK tentacle reported another bonzer year of revenue growth.

The dividend will be payable on 10 September and matches that paid in the previous two quarters.

The trillion-dollar company has continued to enjoy a rise in stock price over the last year (aside from a brief plunge when the whole virus thing kicked off) and the performance of its UK arm is unlikely to be much cause for concern as turnover climbed from £2.14bn in 2018 (helped by the company's transition to a Limited Risk Distributor model in 2017) to £2.85bn in the year ending 30 June 2019, according to figures filed at the UK's Companies House this week.

Profits before tax were also up, from £137.5m in 2018 to £167.5m in 2019. Post-tax profit increased to £132.9m from £109.4m.

A marked change in the figures was the tipping of the balance between "Product" and "Services" in the direction of the latter. In 2018, the product line accounted for £1.2bn of turnover while services (and others) brought in £0.9bn. By 2019 the balance had shifted as product remained at £1.2bn but services now claimed £1.6bn. Quite the switcheroo.

In the Microsoft world, "products" represents lines such as operating systems, applications, hardware (such as Surface) and gaming consoles. "Services" is the bucket which includes "cloud-based solutions" such as Xbox Live, Dynamics 365, Office (now Microsoft) 365, consulting and support and, of course, Azure.

Tax payments went up a smidge, to £34.6m from £28.2m, and the directors also approved a £150m dividend (up from £121m in 2018).

Employee numbers climbed to a total of 3,410 (from 3,024) and the company reported a 28 per cent return on employee investment (a small increase on the 25 per cent of 2018.)

The results (for the year ending June 2019) obviously do not take into account the effect of COVID-19. The company's management warned that the effects of the pandemic could be felt anywhere from its supply chain to infrastructure; something to which users struggling to provision Azure resource or staring at a Teams timeout would attest.

Aside from the virus, the other issue weighing on the collective mind of Blighty's businesses, Brexit, was not expected to present a challenge unless something unpleasant creeps into the withdrawal agreement.

"We are not aware of any issues impacting the use of Microsoft cloud services after Brexit and will be closely monitoring the EU Bill and any further trade negotiations," Microsoft states in the accounts. ®

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