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Microsoft Stock Hits Record High, $2.3 Trillion Market Value, With Apple in Sight

Microsoft has nearly doubled Apple's year-to-date gains in 2021, with its sights set on overtaking the world's most valuable tech company.

Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report shares hit a fresh all-time high Friday, extending their year-to-date gain to around 40%, as it continues to chase Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report as the world's most valuable tech company.

Microsoft, which topped Street forecasts in its record fourth quarter earnings report last month, has gained nearly 35% since hitting a six-month trough in early April, with investors praising the group's market-leading cloud computing division amid the shift to at-home and hybrid work models by companies around the world and the hyper growth of its new Azure business.

Azure, in fact, is forecast to lead Microsoft's near-term gains following a 51% surge in fourth quarter revenues that paced a 21% increase in the group's overall $46.2 billion top line

Analysts at Mizuho, UBS and Wedbush boosted their price targets on the group Friday to $350 per share, with the latter noting potential revenue tailwinds from its Office 365 products following a price increase from Microsoft earlier this week - the first since 2011. 

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"We believe this reflects Microsoft's pricing power following a long period of innovation on the platform (since launch, Microsoft added 24 applications including Teams and Power Platform as well as >1,400  new features)," said KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Michael Turits. "We therefore see potential for upside to our current FY22 and FY23 O365 Commercial revenue estimates of $35.0B and $39.4B, respectively."

Microsoft shares were marked 2.9% higher in mid-morning trading Friday to change hands at $305.34 each, an all-time high that puts the Redmond, Washington's market value at $2.3 trillion - just shy of Apple's $2.44 trillion.

Apple shares were marked 1.1% higher at $148.26 each, extending its year-to-date gain to around 15%.