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Microsoft surpasses Apple as world's most valuable biz, by stock price at least

iBiz sunk by scarce chips and Microsoft's Azure cloud cash faucet

Microsoft on Friday surpassed Apple as the world's most valuable publicly traded company in the world after the iPhone maker reported underwhelming earnings on Thursday.

The Windows biz took the top spot – which Apple has held since July 2020 when it surpassed Saudi Aramco (which is largely government-owned) – because Apple's supply chain challenges deflated its stock. Presently Microsoft's market capitalization stands at $2.48t, while Apple's has slipped to $2.46t.

Apple initially surpassed Microsoft in value back on May 28, 2010, at a time when both companies were worth around $226bn. At the time, ExxonMobil was the most valuable company in the world, worth about $284bn.

Apple took the top spot in 2011 and apart from trading places one quarter with ExxonMobile, remained atop the list of most valuable public companies from 2012 until dethroned by Microsoft in November, 2018, if you don't count the brief period in 2016 when Google took the lead. Apple again passed Microsoft in February 2019.

Microsoft regained the lead in early 2020, but Apple recovered and has remained ahead until now.

Earlier this week, Microsoft reported revenue of $45.32bn and earnings of $2.27 per share, significantly better than expected. Revenue was up 22 per cent, according to the company, driven largely by demand for cloud services like Azure.

Apple on Thursday reported $83.4bn for its fiscal Q4 2021, up 29 per cent, with earnings of $1.24 per share.

On a conference call for investors, CEO Tim Cook Apple had missed out on about $6bn in revenue for the quarter due to "industrywide silicon shortages and COVID-related manufacturing disruptions."

"A big part of Microsoft's success is due to its focus on its cloud business, which has increased the revenue shares compared to other business units," said Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa in an email to The Register.

"Microsoft has been focusing on the cloud business for a few years now, and its efforts have paid off so far. Also Apple is still a hardware centric vendor, and impacted by current semiconductor shortage. Thus its current performance is not its full potential."

The Register asked Microsoft whether anyone wished to comment on the company's return to the top, but a spokesperson declined. ®

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