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Microsoft Corporation's (NASDAQ:MSFT) high institutional ownership speaks for itself as stock continues to impress, up 4.4% over last week

Key Insights

  • Institutions' substantial holdings in Microsoft implies that they have significant influence over the company's share price

  • A total of 25 investors have a majority stake in the company with 44% ownership

  • Insiders have sold recently

If you want to know who really controls Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), then you'll have to look at the makeup of its share registry. We can see that institutions own the lion's share in the company with 73% ownership. That is, the group stands to benefit the most if the stock rises (or lose the most if there is a downturn).

Last week’s 4.4% gain means that institutional investors were on the positive end of the spectrum even as the company has shown strong longer-term trends. The gains from last week would have further boosted the one-year return to shareholders which currently stand at 30%.

Let's take a closer look to see what the different types of shareholders can tell us about Microsoft.

View our latest analysis for Microsoft

ownership-breakdown
ownership-breakdown

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Microsoft?

Institutions typically measure themselves against a benchmark when reporting to their own investors, so they often become more enthusiastic about a stock once it's included in a major index. We would expect most companies to have some institutions on the register, especially if they are growing.

Microsoft already has institutions on the share registry. Indeed, they own a respectable stake in the company. This implies the analysts working for those institutions have looked at the stock and they like it. But just like anyone else, they could be wrong. It is not uncommon to see a big share price drop if two large institutional investors try to sell out of a stock at the same time. So it is worth checking the past earnings trajectory of Microsoft, (below). Of course, keep in mind that there are other factors to consider, too.

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

Since institutional investors own more than half the issued stock, the board will likely have to pay attention to their preferences. Microsoft is not owned by hedge funds. The Vanguard Group, Inc. is currently the largest shareholder, with 9.0% of shares outstanding. Meanwhile, the second and third largest shareholders, hold 7.3% and 4.0%, of the shares outstanding, respectively.

Our studies suggest that the top 25 shareholders collectively control less than half of the company's shares, meaning that the company's shares are widely disseminated and there is no dominant shareholder.

While studying institutional ownership for a company can add value to your research, it is also a good practice to research analyst recommendations to get a deeper understand of a stock's expected performance. There are a reasonable number of analysts covering the stock, so it might be useful to find out their aggregate view on the future.

Insider Ownership Of Microsoft

While the precise definition of an insider can be subjective, almost everyone considers board members to be insiders. Company management run the business, but the CEO will answer to the board, even if he or she is a member of it.

Insider ownership is positive when it signals leadership are thinking like the true owners of the company. However, high insider ownership can also give immense power to a small group within the company. This can be negative in some circumstances.

Our data suggests that insiders own under 1% of Microsoft Corporation in their own names. It is a very large company, so it would be surprising to see insiders own a large proportion of the company. Though their holding amounts to less than 1%, we can see that board members collectively own US$1.1b worth of shares (at current prices). It is good to see board members owning shares, but it might be worth checking if those insiders have been buying.

General Public Ownership

The general public-- including retail investors -- own 27% stake in the company, and hence can't easily be ignored. While this size of ownership may not be enough to sway a policy decision in their favour, they can still make a collective impact on company policies.

Next Steps:

It's always worth thinking about the different groups who own shares in a company. But to understand Microsoft better, we need to consider many other factors. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Microsoft you should be aware of.

If you are like me, you may want to think about whether this company will grow or shrink. Luckily, you can check this free report showing analyst forecasts for its future.

NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team@simplywallst.com