updated 06:05 pm EDT, Thu April 22, 2010
Apple may be larger than Microsoft on stock index
Apple is flirting with the prospects of overtaking Microsoft in the S&P 500 stock index, an estimate found Thursday. Following another rapid climb to a record high share price of $266.47, Apple's market cap when float-adjusted has reached $241.5 billion, or just past Microsoft's $239.5 billion. The achievement puts Apple only behind oil giant Exxon Mobil on the index.
The Mac creator is still behind Microsoft in absolute market cap as the new calculations don't include shares held by large-scale controllers such as other public companies. Near-constant upward growth in April, particularly after successive stock rallies in the two days since Apple's record winter quarter, has nonetheless closed the gap considerably and leaves a relatively small gap between Microsoft's $275.3 billion non-adjusted cap and Apple's $241.63 billion.
Much of Apple's performance in recent months has come from its consistently outperforming guidance from both analysts and itself, constantly outpacing the industry in computer sales, and expanding its potential through new devices like the iPad. Microsoft's share value has been largely stable over the past decade as its near-monopoly over operating systems and productivity apps has showed little signs of change. Most of its ventures beyond its core Windows and Office businesses, such as Windows Mobile and Zune, have either struggled to eke out profits or have often been money-losing prospects; its online services have regularly been drags on the entire company's revenue.
The market cap situation is likely to change in the wake of after-hours trading but may still favor Apple, as Microsoft's quarterly results have so far triggered a more than three percent drop in trading in share price where Apple's has moved less than a fifth of a point.