Apple's market cap tops $600 billion

Apple passes the mark in midday trading, closing in on a record set by rival Microsoft more than a decade ago.

James Martin/CNET

Apple's market capitalization crossed the $600 billion mark earlier today, setting a record for the company and nearing that of one of its biggest rivals.

Shares of the company's stock reached $644 in intraday trading. Per Dow Jones, the stock needs to close above $643.52 to reach the magic $600 billion number.

Market capitalization is defined as the value of shares times the number of shares outstanding. Apple passed previous market cap champ Exxon on that metric last year, and is now nearing the $619 billion market cap record set by rival Microsoft on December 30, 1999.

The record for the company comes a little more than a month after Apple's market cap hit $500 billion, and weeks after the company announced plans to tap its $100 billion cash pile to pay a dividend to investors , as well as buy back $10 billion worth of company stock over the next three years.

As mighty as $600 billion is, this could just be a stop along the way according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. In a note to investors this time last week, Munster said that shares of Apple would hit $1,000 a pop in 2014, bringing the company's market cap to "roughly" $1 trillion . That was based on the firm's confidence in Apple being able to continue to sell its mobile devices -- specifically the iPhone -- in markets around the world.

Apple reports its fiscal second-quarter earnings on April 24, which will offer a more complete tally on sales of the latest iPad, which was released last month, as well as a progress report on iPhone sales since the iPhone 4S was launched in additional countries.

 

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