How to buy and sell Microsoft shares

Microsoft is one of the most valuable companies in the world, reaching a $1 trillion valuation in April 2019. If you’re interested in buying or selling Microsoft shares, you can learn more about it in this step-by-step guide.

Microsoft Source: Bloomberg

How to buy Microsoft shares

You can buy or trade Microsoft shares with IG. If you want to own the physical shares, you’ll invest via share dealing. If you don’t want to own the shares, but rather speculate on share price movements, you’ll trade via derivatives.

Investing in Microsoft shares

You can invest in Microsoft shares via our share dealing service. To do this, you need to open a share dealing account and then follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your IG share dealing account
  2. Look for ‘Microsoft’ in the ‘finder’ panel
  3. Choose the price you want to deal at
  4. Buy the shares

The shares you buy will show in your IG account as soon as the purchase is finalised. If Microsoft shares rise or fall in value, the change will also reflect in your share dealing account. If you are due to receive dividend payments, IG will pay these into your share dealing account once we receive the funds.

Note: When buying shares, you need the full value of the investment upfront.

Find out how you can sell your Microsoft shares

Trading Microsoft shares

You can trade Microsoft shares using spread bets or CFDs. When trading shares with IG, you trade using leverage, which means you only need a small deposit (margin) to open your position. You’ll still get exposure to the full value of the trade, and your profit or loss will be based on the total position size.

Remember that you don’t own the shares when you trade them, you simply speculate on share price moves. This enables you to go long or short. If you think the Microsoft share price will go up, you go long and if you think the share price will fall, you go short.

When you’re ready to close your position, go to the ‘positions’ tab, select the one you want to close and click on the ‘close’ button.

How to sell Microsoft shares

If you bought Microsoft shares via IG, you can sell them via our share dealing service. You can also sell Microsoft shares that you bought elsewhere if you transfer them to IG. You may want to sell your shares to realise a profit, or to avoid a loss. Follow these steps to sell your Microsoft shares:

  1. Go to your open positions and click on ‘Microsoft’
  2. Select ‘sell’ in the dealing tab
  3. Enter the number of shares you wish to sell
  4. Confirm the sale

A brief history of Microsoft

Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, after the pair wrote the BASIC programming language for the Altair 8800 microcomputer. Their business was registered as ‘Microsoft’ – a combination of ‘microcomputer’ and software’ – in 1976. Over the next three years, the company opened an office in Japan, made its first $1 million in sales and moved its head office to Washington.

After 11 years of product development and solid profits, Microsoft finally decided to go public. On 13 March 1986, it released more than three million common shares at $21 per share. One of the reasons Gates gave for the decision to hold the initial public offering (IPO) was to increase market liquidity. By the following year, Microsoft was the largest software company in the world.

During the 1990s Microsoft released one of its most successful products – Windows 95. More than 40 million units of the product were sold, the share price was climbing, and Gates was moving up on ‘the world’s richest’ list. Windows 98 followed and, right before the dawn of Y2K, the share price reached a high of $58.38. In 2000, Bill Gates stepped down as chief executive officer (CEO) and was succeeded by Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft launched a few unpopular products in the early-2000s, but the Xbox wasn’t one of them. Introduced in 2001, it sold 1.5 million units in only two months. By this time, Microsoft was nearing its ninth stock split, and the share price was dwindling due to increased competition in the industry. At the end of 2003, shares were trading at $27.45.

In 2004, the company announced that it planned to return up to $75 billion to shareholders by means of dividend payments. This had little effect on the share price, which only fell noticeably during the global financial crisis, after Microsoft had to cut around 5000 jobs. It wasn’t until 2012 that the share price took off again – this was attributed mostly to a sturdy revenue stream.

Satya Nadella took over from Ballmer as CEO in 2014, and Microsoft’s share price has nearly tripled since then. The company has invested a lot of its energy into cloud computing and is rivalling other tech companies such as Amazon and Apple.

Microsoft shares: the basics

Microsoft shares are listed on the Nasdaq 100 (USA Tech100 with IG) under the ticker MSFT. It’s important to understand the business and all corporate actions before you decide to invest in Microsoft or trade its shares.

Besides strong fundamentals and a high demand for the stock, Microsoft’s share price is also driven by what its competitors are doing. For example, Apple and Google are also at the forefront of global technology services.

Microsoft has undergone nine stock splits since its IPO. The most recent was a two-for-one split in 2003, which means shareholders received an extra share for every share they owned. With stock splits, the amount of shares increase, while the share price decreases in order not to affect the value of a shareholding or the company’s market cap. After the 2003 split, one original share equals 288 shares. As of 2019, Microsoft pays a quarterly dividend of $0.46 per share.

Buy Microsoft shares

Microsoft key personnel: who manages the company?

Microsoft has several executives that manage the company in different regions across the globe. The key players are:

Satya Nadella Chief executive officer
Brad Smith Chief legal officer
Bill Gates Co-founder and technology advisor
Amy Hood Chief financial officer
Jean-Phillippe Courtois President of global sales, marketing and operations

Microsoft also has a board of directors, which consists of 14 members and includes Nadella and Gates. John Thompson is the chairman of the board.

What is Microsoft’s business model?

Originally, Microsoft relied on licensing its software and the Windows operating system to make money, but its business model has evolved over the years. It all changed in 2014 when Microsoft started shifting its focus to product integration.

The Microsoft business model can be broken into four segments:

  • Productivity and business processes: information, communication and productivity
  • Intelligent cloud: server products and cloud services
  • Personal computing: user and developer interests
  • Corporate and other: alternative products and services

Microsoft fundamental analysis: how to analyse Microsoft

If you’re considering buying or selling Microsoft shares, you must first conduct fundamental analysis on the company. This includes studying Microsoft’s financials and a range of factors that affect the business. You can analyse the health of the economy and its sectors, study news reports, consider the competition, explore supply and demand, and evaluate the cost of production. By gathering this information, you can identify Microsoft’s inherent value.

Microsoft’s share value can be studied by using metrics such as the earnings per share (EPS), price-to-earnings ratio (P/E), the return on equity (ROE) and the dividend yield.

  • Microsoft’s EPS determines the value attached to each share and whether the business is profitable or not. EPS is calculated by dividing Microsoft’s profit by the number of outstanding shares
  • Microsoft’s P/E ratio outlines how much you must spend on shares to make $1 in profit. P/E ratio is calculated by dividing Microsoft’s current market value per share by its EPS
  • Microsoft’s ROE measures how much income the company makes on assets compared to shareholder investments. ROE is calculated by dividing Microsoft’s net income by stakeholder equity
  • Microsoft’s dividend yield compares the company’s annual dividends to the share price. Dividend yield, expressed as a percentage, is calculated by dividing the dividend amount by the share price, and then multiplying by 100

Learn more about fundamental analysis in this comprehensive guide


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