Apple could lose title of most valuable US company to rival, Microsoft

Apple could be set to lose its title of being the world’s biggest company as its old rival, Microsoft, appears set to take the crown.

The gap in market capitalisation – which is calculated as the share price multiplied by the number of shares – between the two tech giants has narrowed in early 2024 trading.

So far, Apple shares are down four per cent for the year following investor concerns about smartphone demand and iPhone sales.

By contrast, Microsoft is up around two per cent for the year.

At the close of trading on Wednesday January 10 (US time), Apple had a total market capitalisation of US$2.896 trillion (A$4.32 trillion), compared to Microsoft’s US US$2.845 trillion (A$4.25 trillion).

In 2023, Apple’s share price increased 48 per cent over the year, and its market capitalisation peaked at over US$3 trillion (A$4.47 trillion) in December, compared to Microsoft’s gains of 57 per cent for the year.

Apple first over took Microsoft as the world’s most valuable company in 2010, and the last time Microsoft was worth more than Apple was in late 2021.

Since 2018, Microsoft overtook its rival on a few occasions, when concerns about supply chain shortages related to the pandemic hit Apple’s share price.

Doubts about Apple’s growth have emerged as news that iPhone sales in China dropped 30 per cent in the first week of 2024.

In its most recent quarterly financial update last November, Apple’s sales forecast for the three months to December 31 was below market expectations.

The iPhone maker said it was being affected by weak demand for iPads and wearable tech.

Apple will report its financial results for the period on February 1.

Microsoft will report its December quarter results on January 23 and analysts are expecting it to report a 16 per cent increase in sales, boosted by growth in its cloud business.

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