Back in March, Microsoft was over $50 billion ahead of Apple in market cap. That gap was still huge, but it was the closest the two had been in that measurement of value in decades. The trend was clear: I predicted that Apple would pass Microsoft, it was only a matter of when.
Not even I thought it would be this soon.
Today, Apple has just passed Microsoft in market cap. Now, the stocks have been fluctuating quite a bit, so this could change before the market closes. But as of right now, Apple is ahead, and has been for the past few minutes.
Some publications reported this milestone happened back in April, but that was a slightly different metric. That was the market cap on the S&P 500, which uses float-adjusted numbers. Today’s milestone is straight-up market cap: numbers of shares outstanding multiplied by share price.
Of course, just how much this number means is a matter of debate. The truth is that it really doesn’t mean that much in terms how strong or weak a company is from a financial perspective. But it is a good indicator of trends, and obviously stock performance. That trend is obviously that over the past five years or so, Apple has been destroying Microsoft is gaining stock value.
Over those past five years, Microsoft’s stock has been largely stagnant: it’s up about 4%. Apple’s stock, meanwhile, is up some 550% over that same time frame.
Regardless of how the market closes today, you can likely expect Apple market cap to surge ahead in the coming days. A week from this coming Monday is Steve Jobs’ keynote at Apple’s WWDC event. There, he’s widely expected to unveil the new iPhone — and undoubtedly some other things. The mere speculation about what he’ll unveil will fuel the price. Microsoft, meanwhile, is losing key executives.
Boom! Fanboys go wild.
Update: And as the markets near closing time, Apple is now nearly $3 billion ahead of Microsoft.
Update 2: And sure enough, Apple did close the day ahead of Microsoft: $222.07 billion vs. $219.18 billion.