Apple Inc’s market value climbed past US$623 billion on Monday, surpassing the record set by Microsoft Corp during the heyday of technology stocks in 1999.
Apple shares rose 2.6 percent, bringing its gains this month to almost 9 percent as Wall Street bets on the Sept. 12 rollout of the latest version of the iPhone, the device that revolutionized the mobile industry.
However, Microsoft retains the title of history’s most valuable company if its 1999 peak value of about US$621 billion were to be adjusted for inflation.
Apple’s stock usually rallies in the run-up to major product launches, among the most heavily watched events on the annual tech calendar. The iPhone is the company’s biggest product, yielding half or more of its sales.
Sources have said the company will take the wraps off a larger version of its iPhone on Sept. 12. Some analysts also think it intends to announce a smaller iPad to safeguard its market share, as rivals from Google Inc to Amazon.com Inc begin selling cheaper, seven-inch tablets.
However, Bernstein Research’s Toni Sacconaghi warned that questions remain about the availability of components for both the iPhone and the iPad, which in the past has constrained Apple’s product shipments.
“A key question for the launch will be Apple’s expected rollout schedule,” the analyst wrote on Monday. “Apple’s intention is to continue to ramp offerings as quickly as possible, but the company’s ability to do so remains a key near-term question.”
Apple’s shares have risen 64 percent this year. On Monday, they closed at a session high of US$665.15, conferring on the Silicon Valley giant a capitalization of US$623.5 billion, exceeding Microsoft’s 1999 value of US$620.8 billion, according to data provided by S&P Dow Jones Indices.
Microsoft’s value would rise to US$853.7 billion after adjusting for rising prices.
Apple overtook Exxon Mobil to reach the No. 1 spot by market capitalization last year. Monday’s move means it has now entered the record books as the biggest company ever, in terms of market value.
“Everyone loves a winner; if you play the quick trade be careful,” said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices in emailed comments. “If you are an investor, check the fundamentals and business plans, and avoid the hype in your decision.”
Apple climbed even as fellow technology heavyweight Facebook Inc plumbed new depths. The No. 1 social network slid to a record intraday low of US$18.75 in the morning before bouncing back to close just above US$20 after Capstone upgraded the company’s stock to buy from hold.