If you picked Apple’s IPO over Microsoft’s, you can start crying now

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Microsoft Windows
Apple may be the cooler company, but Microsoft's where the money is.
Photo: Microsoft

If you’d had the foresight to invest in Apple and Microsoft back when they first went public, it’s no secret that you’d be sitting on a big old pile of cash today.

But which company would have made you more money? CNBC recently crunched the numbers and, well, the results are somewhat surprising.

Although both companies were founded at around the same time, Apple went public more than half a decade before Microsoft. Apple’s IPO took place on December 12, 1980, while Microsoft followed on March 13, 1986. Since then, both have had their ups and downs — although more ups than downs by a wide margin.

CNBC looked at what a $1,000 investment in both companies would have looked like, had it been made in the respective year of their IPO. That’s easier said than done, since there are multiple stock splits and dividends to factor in since then.

The analysis suggests that with an Apple investment of $1,000 in 1980 (the equivalent of just over $3,000 today), you would currently have an investment worth over $425,000. That’s a pretty darn good return on your cash — although it’s paltry compared to Microsoft. A $1,000 investment in Microsoft in 1986 (about $2,300 in today’s money) would now apparently be valued at upwards of $1.7 million.

Microsoft or Apple?

Provided that CNBC has done its math correctly, the figure surprised me, since I imagined it would be far more competitive between the two companies. Of course, there are multiple ways to measure a company’s success, but at a time when Microsoft is once again battling Apple over valuation (something we haven’t seen since 2010) this is a pretty interesting stat.

For what it’s worth, Microsoft’s Investor Relations page pegs the figure at closer to $1 million, although this doesn’t include reinvested cash dividends. Either way, Microsoft comes out ahead.

Did any readers have invest in Apple or Microsoft back in the day? More importantly, did you have enough faith to hold onto your investment? Let us know in the comments below.

As a comparison, Apple stock is currently trading at $171.28 to Microsoft’s $106.09. AAPL is valued at $812.65 billion, while Microsoft sit at $814.83 billion.

Source: CNBC