Nvidia will win the race to a $4 trillion market cap—but the long-term big tech battle might be different, experts say

0
10
nvidia-will-win-the-race-to-a-$4-trillion-market-cap—but-the-long-term-big-tech-battle-might-be-different,-experts-say
Nvidia will win the race to a $4 trillion market cap—but the long-term big tech battle might be different, experts say

A surprisingly resilient economy and profit-filled AI boom are driving the United States’ big tech giants toward a milestone that would have seemed impossible just a few decades ago. Nvidia, Microsoft, Apple have all surpassed the $3 trillion market capitalization mark, and Google and Amazon are following close behind in the $2 trillion range. 

Combined, these five tech giants alone are now worth more than $14.5 trillion and make up roughly 32% of the S&P 500. For reference, in 2002, after the dot-com bubble burst, the total market capitalization of every U.S. stock was $11.1 trillion, according to Siblis Research data. Big tech’s performance has been particularly impressive this year, with Nvidia, for example, surging from a $2 trillion market cap to a $3 trillion market cap in under 100 days.

That begs the question: which tech giant will hit the next big milestone, $4 trillion in market cap, first? Some bears argue that big tech companies’ record run of performance can’t continue forever, given their elevated valuations and the slowing economy, while the bulls believe this is just the beginning of a streak of AI-induced wins for big tech.

“I think, a year from now, we [will] have three $4 trillion market cap companies: Nvidia, Apple, Microsoft,” Wedbush tech analyst Dan Ives told Fortune.

He argued that many of his peers on Wall Street continue to underestimate the AI revolution and the health of the U.S. economy. “Unless you have a telescope, you can’t find a recession. And the Fed? Their next move is a cut not a hike. So, to me, all signs are bullish,” he said. “It’s 9 pm, and the party goes to 4 am…the haters will hate, continuing to say that this is a bubble.”

Nvidia

There are, of course, a wide range of views on where big tech companies are headed, but many experts are convinced that chip giant Nvidia will be the first to reach the $4 trillion market cap mark, driven by the seemingly unending thirst for its AI-enabling hardware. 

“The first one to get there is likely to be the godfather of AI Jensen [Huang] and Nvidia, because they’re the only game in town—their GPUs are the new oil or gold in the tech world with no real competition,” Ives said.

Nvidia stock has surged roughly 160% year to date and more than 3,000% over the past five years. That’s led some analysts to warn that the tech giant’s valuation has become stretched, and doesn’t account for rising competition in the semiconductor market.

As David Trainer, founder and CEO of research firm New Constructs, told Fortune’s Shawn Tully last month: “Nvidia’s valuation is ridiculous. It’s facing the same curse as Tesla. But when Tesla got profitable, loads of competitors entered the EV space, cutting margins and slowing sales. The same will happen with Nvidia.”

But Ives noted that even though Nvidia’s shares have surged, its revenues and earnings have followed suit. Nvidia raked in a record $26 billion in revenues and $14.8 billion in net income in the quarter that ended this April. In 2021, during the same quarter, the company had revenues of just $5.8 billion and net income of $1.9 billion. 

Louis Navellier, founder and chairman of family office Navellier & Associates, also brushed off the competition argument, claiming Nvidia essentially has a “monopoly” on key AI chips which will lead to consistent sales and earnings growth for years to come. “And, you know, Jensen is kind of like the new Elon, he’s got kind of a cult status,” he said, adding that will continue to drive retail investors in the stock.

Nvidia’s market capitalization as of July 5: $3.14 trillion

Microsoft

Microsoft’s booming cloud business and big investment into ChatGPT creator OpenAI have buoyed its shares over the past few years. But it’s the company’s diverse and sustainable revenue streams that will lead it to a $4 trillion market cap, according to Tim Pagliara, founder and chief investment officer of independent wealth management firm CapWealth.

He said Nvidia may briefly touch the $4 trillion milestone first, due to what he called the current AI “mania,” but Microsoft will be the “more sustainable” $4 trillion company. 

“They’re embracing AI, but they also have just a tremendous number of things in the pipeline. And I know as a small business owner, we just gladly keep paying them more per user per month for everything from Azure to some of the additional add ons that they have created for security and things like that,” he added, referencing Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing business.

Pagliara thinks Microsoft’s big tech rivals have riskier business models as well. Apple is dependent on consumers buying into its new iPhone offerings every few years, and Nvidia is benefiting from a lack of competition in the near term, he said. Meanwhile, Microsoft has multiple avenues for consistent revenue growth from the Azure cloud business and Office 365 to Windows and Linkedin.

Market cap: $3.48 trillion

Apple

When it comes to a longer-term outlook, Apple is high on many analysts’ lists because of its potential to use AI to get customers to upgrade their current phones and lure in more iPhone customers. It may not be the first to reach a $4 trillion market cap, but it will get there soon, these bulls say.

“I think over the next two, three years, the largest market cap that we will see is Apple, because they have 2.2 billion iOS devices,” Ives predicted. “Consumer AI is going to go through the walls for Cupertino—they are only in the beginning of an AI-driven supercycle.”

Louis Navellier was also optimistic about Apple’s future, but he said it will need a few “little breakthroughs” to get more customers to buy new iPhones.

He pointed to new AI tools and the potential for folding iPhones as examples. “I don’t know if they’re going to announce that in September, but if they do, it will be a $2,500 phone, and it will sell like crazy and send that stock soaring.”

Market cap: $3.46 trillion

What about Alphabet and Amazon? 

The Google parent’s market cap is currently $2.36 trillion, leaving it well shy of the $4 trillion mark. Analysts said Alphabet will be able to capitalize on the AI revolution, but its missteps with hallucinations have left it behind, and its cloud business isn’t performing as well as others. However, the search giant is taking talent from its peers in an attempt to catch up, recent reports have shown.

It’s a similar story for Amazon, which just recently passed the $2 trillion milestone, and experts expect it will take time for share prices to nearly double. Wedbush’s Ives argued that Amazon’s cloud business, AWS, has also lost out to Microsoft. “​​I think there was some hubris in underestimating what Nadella and Microsoft are doing, and with the crosstown rivals and in that 2-0-6 area code, it’s been a bit of a gut punch for Amazon,” he said. 

And when it comes to AI, Amazon is just “behind the eightball” too, according to the veteran tech analyst. However, Ives noted that CEO Andy Jassy has made changes to the company’s cloud business, and with a massive base of customers, Amazon should benefit more from AI moving forward. 

To be sure, every tech giant on this list also faces risks. Antitrust regulations, cyber attacks, a slowing economy, and a reduction in AI spending should all be considered. But for now, the bulls remain bullish–and they think you should be too. 

“The tech bears with their spreadsheets and valuations will stay in hibernation mode,” Ives said. “But when everyone meets for breakfast at 6 am after this AI party. The bulls [will have] won and the bears just sound smart.”

Subscribe to the CEO Daily newsletter to get global CEO perspectives on the biggest stories in business. Sign up for free.