Tech sector snaphot: Apple’s shifting fortunes

November 19, 2008, 8:35 PM UTC

I’ve long been fascinated by the shifting circles in the New York Times‘ “sector snapshots,” those charts in the Business Section that show the relative sizes of companies in a particular field — and which ones are leading, slipping, lagging or improving relative to the S&P 500.

On Wednesday, the Times ran the snapshot I’d been waiting for – the one that shows where Apple stands vis a vis its competitors in technology hardware & equipment.

The version that appeared in my morning paper showed HP (HPQ) and IBM (IBM) in the first, or leading, quadrant (up for the week and the year) and Apple (AAPL) in the third, or lagging, quadrant (down for the week and the year).

But the best thing about these sector snapshots is that they are available in interactive form on the Times‘ Web site, and by Wednesday afternoon, Apple had shifted from lagging to improving, thanks to the fact that Apple’s share price didn’t fall as steeply Wednesday as the S&P 500.

Check it out for yourself at here. You can track dozens of companies in nearly 30 sectors. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Make sure the sector you’re interested in appears in the Category window in the upper left hand corner.
  2. Click on the company you want to track in the right hand column to highlight the circle that represents its market capitalization.
  3. Move the Time Period slider to see that company shift — like a planet against the fixed stars — on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.

But if it’s Apple you are tracking, you have to move fast. This stock is as changeable as a baby’s bottom, and could be anywhere by the end of the day.