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Microsoft Closes Week With Biggest Market Cap, Surpassing Apple

Microsoft’s recent cloud success comes in contrast to Apple’s struggles to grow unit sales in its iPhone business.

Microsoft has ended the week as the most valuable publicly traded company in the U.S., with a surge past fellow tech giant Apple that was buoyed by confidence in the company's fast-growing cloud business.

"In our opinion Microsoft remains in an enviable position heading into 2019 on the heels of its cloud success and is firing on all cylinders around its Office 365 and Azure strategic vision based on our recent checks," wrote Daniel Ives, managing director for equity research at Wedbush Securities, in a note to investors on Thursday.

[Related: Satya Nadella's 5 Boldest Statements At Microsoft Ignite 2018]

Microsoft shares rose only slightly on Friday, by two-thirds of a percent. But it was enough for Microsoft’s market valuation to surpass that of Apple, which has seen its stock price falter for weeks, including with a half-percent drop on Friday.

Microsoft's market capitalization stood at $851.22 billion based on its closing stock price on Friday. Apple's market cap ended at $847.43 billion.

Apple had maintained the No. 1 spot at the market close each day this week, until Friday, despite periodically falling behind Microsoft during intra-day trading, CNBC reported. Microsoft last ended a year as the most valuable U.S. company in 2002, according to the report.

During its first quarter of fiscal 2019, ended Sept. 30, Microsoft reported that revenue for its Azure cloud platform surged 76 percent. The Azure results helped to drive quarterly revenue of $8.57 billion in Microsoft's intelligent cloud segment, up 24 percent from same period the year before.

"Azure is the only hyperscale cloud that extends to the edge across identity, data, application platform, as well as security and management," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said while announcing the latest quarterly results.

Apple, meanwhile, has fallen far from the $1 trillion market cap that the company enjoyed prior to reporting its latest quarterly earnings on Nov. 1.

That quarterly report showed that iPhone unit sales have continued to stagnate. Apple simultaneously announced it would no longer provide unit sales data for its iPhone business for future quarters, a move that has proven unpopular with Wall Street analysts and shareholders.

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