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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Microsoft, Amazon, Rackspace, Apple and Google

  The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Microsoft, Amazon, Rackspace, Apple and
                                    Google

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, May 22, 2013

CHICAGO, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Zacks.com announces the list of stocks
featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts
discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.
Stocks recently featured in the blog include Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT),
Amazon's (Nasdaq:AMZN), Rackspace (NYSE:RAX), Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) and Google
(Nasdaq:GOOG).

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101027/ZIRLOGO)

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from the Pros newsletter: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5513

Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

Microsoft Expands Cloud Services in Australia

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT) recently announced the expansion of Windows
Azure cloud services in Australia and is setting up new data centers for the
purpose.

Microsoft plans to open two new cloud computing data centers in the Australian
states of New South Wales and Victoria. Management stated that it has more
than 200,000 Windows Azure customers across the world. We believe that the
launch of this new cloud computing platform will expand the Windows Azure
consumer base in the region.

The new Australian data center will provide customers access to Microsoft
services including NET and Open Source applications, SharePoint, SQL and
Active Directory on virtual machines in Windows Azure.

Windows Azure is Microsoft's cloud computing platform for building, deploying
and managing applications and services through a global network of managed
datacenters. Windows Azure core offerings include Media Services, Mobile
Services, Cloud Services, Virtual Machines, Websites and Big Data. It competes
with Amazon's (Nasdaq:AMZN) cloud computing platform Amazon Web Services (AWS)
and OpSource Cloud Computing Services.

Earlier, companies incurred significant costs to build their own
infrastructure for data storage. They had to make a substantial payment
upfront, after which they would invest further to purchase additional storage
space anticipating growing backup demand. This resulted in under-utilized
capacity and unnecessary expenses. With Microsoft's cloud-based storage
services, companies now do not need to waste time and money on managing their
own data centers.

Cloud storage came into prominence in 2009, with Nirvanix and Amazon's Simple
Storage Service (S3) being two of the major pioneers. Since then, Amazon has
continued to dominate the space, with other players like Microsoft and
Rackspace (NYSE:RAX) offering their own solutions.

Market research firm IDC predicts that the cloud market will jump 130%,
reaching $43.0 billion in 2016. Further, Gartner predicts that around $677.0
billion would be spent on cloud services within the 2013–2016 timeframe.
Microsoft, with its solid portfolio should be able to tap this opportunity.

The company is expanding Windows Azure internationally and investing in
technology infrastructure to support rapid growth. Microsoft remains one of
the best positioned software vendors, given the wide range of its products,
emerging markets strength, continued technology deployment at data centers and
growth in cloud computing.

It is important for the company to focus more on emerging segments such as
mobile hardware and the cloud. Last month, the company announced that it won
customers such as Domino's,Xerox India and Pedcor Co. for its cloud and server
services, Windows Server Hyper-V. Therefore, its server and tools business
remains as strong as ever, which is evident from the series of customer wins
in the recent past.

However, just like other PC makers, Microsoft is also battling the slump in
the PC market caused by the sluggish economy. In addition, the popularity of
smartphones and tablets from Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) have
been cannibalizing its core PC market.

Currently, Microsoft has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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