May 28, 2024
Finance

Apple’s 2024 Slump Puts Most-Valuable Stock Title at Risk


(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc. is off to its weakest start to a year since 2019, putting its long-standing status as the world’s most valuable stock by market value in jeopardy.

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Shares of the technology giant slumped as much as 0.8% in afternoon trading Friday after the New York Times reported that the Justice Department is closer to filing an antitrust case against the company. If the move holds, it will be the fifth consecutive day of losses for Apple, its longest losing streak since October.

The Cupertino, California-based company has been the most valuable publicly-listed company since July 2022, but has seen about $176 billion in market value erased so far this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. While the stock has suffered bigger percentage declines in the first week of January, the losses are the biggest market value destruction at the start of any year on record.

The downturn began earlier in the week after the technology giant was hit by two ratings downgrades, with analysts flagging a weak macro environment in China pressuring demand for iPhones. That has shrunk its lead over fellow technology juggernaut Microsoft Corp. — whose shares have seen a less pronounced decline to begin the year — to less than $100 billion.

“Investors realize how rare it is to have two people go negative,” said Gene Munster, managing partner of Deepwater Asset Management. “I’ve been covering this company for a long time and I’ve never seen two downgrades before an earnings report.”

Apple is also likely under pressure as investors rotate their portfolios at the start of the year.

“Everybody’s selling their winners and buying losers,” said Brian Mulberry, client portfolio manager at Zacks Investment Management. “There’s a big rebalance going on.”

The losses have pushed Apple’s market value down to about $2.8 trillion, nearing Microsoft’s $2.74 trillion. Shares of Microsoft are down as much as 0.1% on Friday.

The Windows software maker has benefited from the artificial intelligence trade that has mesmerized Wall Street over the past year. The software maker is OpenAI’s largest shareholder and has invested about $13 billion into the ChatGPT parent.

–With assistance from Matt Turner.

(Updates stock moves, adds detail about antitrust case in second paragraph.)

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