The company secured its position in the top spot in today's trading, when its shares jumped 3-7/8, to 88-13/16, reaching a new 52-week high. That put the software giant's market capitalization at more than $216 billion, compared with $268 for GE. Microsoft's stock rose a day after the company said it would beat Wall Street estimates for the current quarter. At the time, the company also warned of slow growth ahead--not much of a deterrent.
As reported earlier, Microsoft has been knocking at the door of the $200 billion market cap club during the past month. Its position now seems more solid. Today's market activity is a milestone not only for the software giant, but for all high-technology companies, which increasingly are wielding clout on Wall Street. Microsoft is a "20-something" year-old company, while GE traces its roots to Thomas Edison in 1878.
This year alone, Microsoft's stock has climbed more than 37 percent--despite the uncertainty of a regulatory inquiry into its business practices. Microsoft denies any wrongdoing.
The run-up in the company's stock helped push the Nasdaq to a record 1824.68 today, up 12.24 points, according to an unofficial tally. Intel (INTC) stock rose 1-5/8, to 76-1/16; Dell (DELL) climbed 2-3/16, to 67-15/16; and Cisco (CSCO) jumped 1-3/4, to 69-9/16. Apple (AAPL) closed down 27/32, at 27-5/32, while 3Com (COMS) fell 1-3/4, to 35-1/2. 3Com surprised Wall Street yesterday with lower-than-expected earnings.
Gates's personal net worth is climbing right along with that of his company. He is now well north of $40 billion, and, if he wants, Gates also gets bragging rights over his friend Warren Buffett, the nation's second-richest man behind him. Buffett is a significant stockholder in Coca-Cola (KO), which was surpassed by Microsoft last year as the second-most valuable company.