Microsoft Quarterly Results Far Outpace Expectations

Microsoft on Tuesday reported strong sales in its latest quarter, showing that its corporate customers have been shaking off jitters about spending heavily in the uncertain economy.

The results also showed early signs that the company’s investments in generative artificial intelligence were beginning to bolster sales, most notably reversing what had been slowing growth of the company’s important cloud computing product.

The company had $56.5 billion in sales in the three months that ended in September, up 13 percent from a year earlier. Profit hit $22.3 billion, up 27 percent. The results beat analyst expectations and Microsoft’s own estimates.

Microsoft had told investors that A.I. wouldn’t start producing meaningful results until after the start of 2024, when more products become widely available. The company and its competitors are racing to put generative A.I. into nearly every product they offer. Microsoft is seen by many companies as a leading A.I. provider, thanks to its partnership with — and $13 billion investment in — the start-up OpenAI, which introduced the chatbot ChatGPT almost a year ago.

Microsoft’s flagship cloud computing product, Azure, grew 29 percent, up from 26 percent in the previous quarter. Microsoft told investors to expect about two percentage points of Azure’s growth to come from generative A.I. products, including access Microsoft provides to OpenAI’s GPT-4 language model.