Scoot over Microsoft: Apple again the most valuable US company

PHOTO: Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO - Apple won back its crown as the most valuable publicly listed US company on Wednesday, ending the session with a market capitalisation above recent leaders Microsoft and

Apple edged up 0.03 per cent, putting its market value at US$821.5 billion (S$1.1 trillion). Microsoft's market capitalisation ended at US$813.4 billion after its stock dipped 1.11 per cent, while Amazon's stock market value finished the day at US$805.7 billion, in third place, after its shares slid 1.12 per cent.

Apple's stock has risen about 13 per cent since its quarterly earnings report on Jan 29, with investors betting it was oversold following months of concern about a slowdown in iPhone demand and the company's rare revenue warning on Jan 2 related to soft demand in China.

But slowing iPhone sales have led to lower expectations for Apple's stock. The average analyst price target for Apple has fallen from US$240 three months ago to US$175, less than a dollar more than its current stock price of US$174.24.

After touching a record US$1.1 trillion last October, Apple's market capitalisation fell gradually, and it was overtaken in December by Amazon and Microsoft, which have taken turns in the top position since then.

Apple's stock market value hit a low of US$675 billion on Jan 3 after its revenue warning, but then steadily recovered, helped in part by a quarterly report that was better than feared by investors.

While Apple has gained in recent sessions, Microsoft and Amazon's shares fell after their quarterly reports. Amazon has declined almost 5 per cent since Thursday, when it forecast first-quarter sales below Wall Street estimates and said it would step up investments in 2019.

"That has raised some eyebrows, it's a perception that Amazon may be settling into a more mature phase in terms of growth," said Dan Morgan, a senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust in Atlanta.

Morgan owns shares in Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, but he said that if forced to choose, he would favour Amazon because of its lead in cloud-computing market share.

Microsoft's stock is about flat from last Wednesday, when the software maker met targets for its quarterly results and forecast.