Watch out General Electric (GE)
. Bill Gates and
his troops at Microsoft (MSFT)
knocking on the door of the $200-billion "market cap" club.
In another sign of high-tech's growing clout, "20-something"-year-old
Microsoft today joined GE--which traces its origins back to Thomas Edison
in 1878--as the only other company on Wall Street with a market
capitalization of more than $200 billion. By the end of trading, however,
Microsoft slid to the $199.9 billion mark.
The software giant's stock hit a 52-week high of 84-15/16 early today, but
fell to 82-1/8 by the close of trading, up 1/2 point from yesterday. GE fell 15/16, to 76-3/4, but its market value still stood at $251.2 billion. (Figures were compiled from Bloomberg).
Another high-tech stock is making headway toward the $200-billion mark as
well: Intel, which today achieved a market value of $151.1 billion. The chip giant's stock is up 31.5 percent this year.
Microsoft's stock has risen 27 percent for the year based on bullishness about the company's growth prospects, despite a high-profile regulatory investigation into alleged monopolistic practices. Microsoft denies any wrongdoing.
The run-up in Microsoft's stock is a coup for the company's rank-and-file, as
well as for billionaire chairman and CEO Gates. His worth is estimated at more than $40 billion.
Joining the $200 billion club also gives Gates bragging rights (if he wants
them) over his friend and bridge-playing buddy Warren Buffett.
Buffett, known as the nation's second-richest man behind Gates, is a significant stakeholder in Coca-Cola. Last summer, Microsoft zoomed past Coke as the second-most valuable public company. Coke's market value now stands at $168.9 billion, and Intel is
nipping at its heels. Buffett typically has shied away from technology
stocks, but by now he's no doubt paying attention to their returns.
In contrast to Microsoft's and Intel's double-digit gain, Coke's shares have risen 2.4 percent this year, compared with 4.6 percent for GE.