Networking giant Cisco Systems surpassed Microsoft today as the most valuable company in the world.
Cisco's shares today inched up 69 cents to close at $80.06, giving the
network equipment maker a market value of $555.4 billion. Microsoft today
closed with a value of $541.6 billion, its stock falling $7.63 to $104.06, as
speculation mounted that the giant software maker would settle its
antitrust suit with the Department of Justice.
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"We're pleased about this, but the market fluctuates and things could
change," said Cisco chief financial officer Larry Carter, whose company has
been public for 10 years.
"The question I get from investors is: 'are the best 10 years ahead or
behind us?'" Carter said in an interview. "Our job continues to be focused
on our customers and be successful. I think it will be exciting given where
the Internet is taking us. It's a tremendous opportunity."
Cisco makes high-speed networking equipment used in the Internet backbone,
where most Net information travels. It also sells networking gear to
companies to speed up corporate networks.
Last Friday, some media outlets reported that Cisco beat Microsoft in value
based on "diluted shares," which includes employees' stock options that
have not been exercised and are not available to the general public. Cisco
was worth $579.1 billion to Microsoft's $578.2 billion using diluted shares
to make the calculation. But under basic shares, Cisco remained about $30
billion behind Microsoft, closing with a value of $550.7 billion compared
to Microsoft's $581.3 billion.
Now the basic share calculation puts Cisco in the lead.
Cisco's move to the top spot underscores the importance of technology in
today's business market. Microsoft had previously stripped away General
Electric's No. 1 ranking in 1998.
Last month, Cisco leapfrogged
over General Electric as the second-most-valuable company, after investors
reacted favorably to the high-flying networking firm's strong quarterly earnings.