As Apple stock drops, Microsoft retakes its spot as world’s largest listed company

October 29, 2021, 10:35 AM UTC
Updated October 29, 2021, 5:44 PM UTC
Microsoft Corp. signage atop the building in Seoul, South Korea on Sept. 30, 2021.
SeongJoon Cho—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The drop in Apple Inc.’s shares on Friday propelled Microsoft Corp. to the position of the world’s largest listed company by market capitalization.

Apple fell as much as 3.9% to $146.65 after reporting fourth-quarter revenue that came in below the average analyst estimate, which gave the iPhone maker a market value of $2.41 trillion. Microsoft rose as much as 1.1% to hit a market value of $2.46 trillion, blowing past Apple after reporting estimate-topping results for an 11th straight quarter earlier this week.

“If you’re looking for safety in tech, Microsoft probably seems like a safer bet to me than Apple,” Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors, said in a phone interview. “If there was a downturn in the economy, I would expect Microsoft to stand up better, because its products are diversified across more businesses”

The last time Microsoft dethroned Apple was in the first half of 2020 as investors flocked into growth stocks amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Microsoft is on pace for its best weekly gain since January.

In June, Microsoft took its place in the history books as just the second U.S. public company to reach a $2 trillion market value, buoyed by bets its dominance in cloud computing and enterprise software will expand further in a post-coronavirus world. Its shares have outperformed Apple and Inc. this year on expectations of long-term growth for both earnings and revenue, and expansion in areas like machine learning and cloud computing. Microsoft is up more than 45%, while Apple is about 11% higher and Amazon is up more than 1%.Play Video

Its shares aren’t cheap, trading at a 20% premium to the technology-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index. But lofty valuations haven’t stopped investors from adding to their positions in tech stocks this year. The Nasdaq 100 Index is on pace with the S&P 500 Index with a more than 22% rally each and the Nasdaq Composite is up about 20%.

“Size begets size and strength begets strength. This is the sort of thing that is nice to see; Microsoft was a rock star in the 90’s — one of the four horsemen — and it has clearly gotten its mojo back,” Matousek said.(Updates stock moves, market values and chart.)

—With assistance from Divya Balji.

Updated, October 29, 2021: This story has been updated with stock prices.

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