Global IT major Microsoft nearly took over Apple Inc. as the world’s most valuable company, after its shares on Wednesday (October 27) rallied to a record high, buoyed by a strong quarterly growth in its Azure cloud-computing business.
Microsoft shares jumped by 4.2 per cent to $323.17, raising its market capitalization to $2.43 trillion against Apple’s valuation of $2.46 trillion.
On the other hand, Apple’s shares fell by 0.3 per cent, a day before the declaration of its quarterly results.
Inflation and the global supply-chain crisis, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, have weakened the iPhone manufacturer’s ability to meet the demand, say investors. The shares of the fastest growing US company rose by 12 per cent in 2021.
The company, backed by its high stock market value, in 2010 had surpassed Microsoft to become the world’s premier consumer tech company. Since then, the two companies have been competing with one another to be the most valuable in the IT industry and Apple has been the winner since mid-2020.
Compared to Apple, Microsoft’s shares have increased by 45 per cent this year, mostly due to a surge in demand for its cloud-based services among businesses during the pandemic which saw an increase in remote work.
Amy Hood, the finance chief of Microsoft, told CNBC that even without the impact of an accounting change that could result in a longer useful life of data center equipment, the company’s gross margin could go up by 2 percentage points due to an improvement in the cloud business.
Besides, the company’s PC-related business is recovering from hiccups in supply-chain bottlenecks and has reported a 10 per cent revenue growth in the Windows license sales to device makers.
“Microsoft overcame the two key concerns heading into the print – the PC exposure and margins,” UBS analysts have mentioned in a note after the earnings report.
Microsoft, in its report published on Tuesday, however has mentioned that supply-chain constraints may continue to be a hindrance in the production of its Surface laptops and Xbox gaming consoles.
According to Refinitiv, market experts predict Apple to report a revenue growth of 31 per cent ($84.8 billion) in its September quarter and adjusted earnings per share of $1.24.