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Apple Surpasses Microsoft in Market Value After Best Three-Day Rally Since 2020

ByYasmeeta Oon

Jun 16, 2024

Apple Surpasses Microsoft in Market Value After Best Three-Day Rally Since 2020

In a significant reshuffling of the ranks on Wall Street, Apple Inc. has reclaimed its title as the world’s most valuable company, surpassing Microsoft Corp. This achievement underscores a surge in investor confidence in Apple’s growth prospects and its strategic positioning in the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence (AI).

The Cupertino-based tech giant’s market capitalization soared to an impressive US$3.285 trillion, edging out Microsoft’s US$3.282 trillion. This marks the first time since January that Apple has closed with a higher market value than Microsoft, signaling a notable shift in the hierarchy of the world’s largest companies by market cap. Earlier this week, Apple had slipped to third place behind Nvidia Corp., only to leapfrog back to the top.

Apple’s resurgence was fueled by a remarkable rally over three days, its most substantial since August 2020. The stock experienced a 0.6% increase on Thursday, culminating in a third consecutive positive session. Notably, Tuesday witnessed the largest one-day percentage gain for Apple since November 2022, contributing to an 11% increase over the three-day period. This surge added a colossal US$323.9 billion to its market capitalization — a figure that surpasses the entire market cap of most companies in the S&P 500 Index.

Here’s a breakdown of the recent market movements among the top tech giants:

CompanyMarket Capitalization (US$ Trillion)Recent Performance
Apple Inc.3.285Up 11% over three days
Microsoft Corp3.282Up 0.1% on Thursday
Nvidia Corp.1.022Leading AI stock with 160% YTD gain

The spark for this rally was Apple’s AI-centric presentation at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday. The event showcased the company’s commitment to integrating AI into its ecosystem, particularly in the forthcoming generation of iPhones. This has reignited investor optimism, suggesting that Apple might experience a resurgence in revenue growth after a period of declining sales.

Rhys Williams, Chief Strategist at Wayve Capital Management, commented on the situation, noting, “People have a high degree of conviction that Apple will emerge as a significant player in the AI landscape. In the current market, companies perceived as leaders in AI are being highly valued.” He added that the competitive dynamics between Apple and Microsoft are likely to continue as both firms are poised to capitalize on AI advancements, with Nvidia also being a strong contender.

The anticipation surrounding Apple’s AI initiatives is not unfounded. Analysts believe that AI could drive a substantial upgrade cycle for Apple’s products. Wamsi Mohan, an analyst at Bank of America, highlighted this potential in his recent analysis. He noted, “AI functionality is likely to drive a multi-year upgrade cycle, encouraging faster replacement, increased switching, and higher average selling prices (ASP). The next wave of Apple Intelligence could catalyze a significant product refresh, and current market expectations seem conservative.”

Mohan’s perspective aligns with the positive reception of Apple’s quarterly earnings report in early May, where the company not only exceeded expectations but also unveiled a massive US$110 billion buy-back plan — the largest in U.S. history. This move further buoyed investor confidence and underscored Apple’s financial strength and commitment to returning value to shareholders.

Despite Apple’s impressive rally, its year-to-date performance still lags behind some of its peers in the tech sector. As of Thursday, Apple’s gain for 2024 stands at 11%, trailing the Nasdaq 100 Index’s 16% advance. Meanwhile, companies with more direct and tangible AI applications, such as Microsoft, Inc., Alphabet Inc., and Meta Platforms Inc., have all outperformed Apple this year. Nvidia, a key player in the AI space, has seen its stock price soar by more than 160% year-to-date, reflecting the intense market enthusiasm for AI technology.

Key Points on Apple’s Recent Market Performance:

  • WWDC Presentation: Apple’s focus on AI at the conference spurred market optimism.
  • Significant Market Cap Increase: The three-day rally added $323.9 billion to Apple’s market cap.
  • AI Potential: Analysts predict AI will drive a multi-year upgrade cycle for Apple’s products.
  • Buy-back Plan: The $110 billion buy-back program reinforced investor confidence.
  • Comparative Performance: Despite recent gains, Apple’s stock performance in 2024 is behind other major tech firms more deeply involved in AI.

Apple’s recent performance reflects a broader trend of growing investor interest in companies perceived as leaders in AI innovation. As AI continues to transform industries, Apple’s strategic investments in AI are expected to enhance its product offerings and drive long-term growth. The company’s ability to leverage AI across its ecosystem — from iPhones to services — positions it favorably in the evolving tech landscape.

However, the road ahead is not without challenges. Apple’s revenue fell by 4.3% in its fiscal second quarter, marking the fifth decline in the past six quarters. This contraction underscores the importance of new growth drivers, such as AI, to sustain its market leadership.

As Apple reclaims its position as the world’s most valuable company, its future in the AI arena will be closely watched by investors and analysts alike. The recent rally is a testament to the market’s belief in Apple’s potential to be a formidable player in the AI revolution. With substantial financial resources, a loyal customer base, and a history of innovation, Apple is well-positioned to navigate the competitive landscape of AI and maintain its stature at the forefront of the technology sector.

The ongoing race for AI dominance among tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Nvidia will undoubtedly shape the next chapter in the evolution of the global tech industry.

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Featured Image courtesy of DALL-E by ChatGPT

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.

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