Strange days indeed
The historical significance of Apple passing Microsoft in market capitalization last spring wasn't lost on anyone. Now Microsoft is in danger of being passed by International Business Machines, an event arguably as rich in irony as last year's passing of the torch. IBM, of course, lost its pre-eminence in computing to Microsoft and others as personal computers revolutionized the business in the 1980s and '90s. The last time IBM's market value was bigger than Microsoft's was April 16, 1996, according to FactSet Research Systems. IBM's market cap then was $63.3 billion; Microsoft's was $61.9 billion.
When trading closed for the long weekend on Thursday, Microsoft's market value was $214.4 billion, $9.2 billion ahead of IBM's $205.2 billion. The gap was narrower earlier in the week. The last time they were this close was late 1996. And by enterprise value, which includes net debt, Big Blue already is bigger than Microsoft.