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The race to a $1 trillion market cap is underway, and it's looking "very close" to Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's "Mad Money. "
Tipping his hat to Morgan Stanley analyst Keith Weiss, who came up with the concept of the race to $1 trillion in a recent research note on Microsoft, Cramer decided to look at all four contenders and speculate on which one might cross the "finish line" first.
At first, Apple seemed like the clear favorite, with a big lead on its competition and the well-respected CEO, Tim Cook, at the helm, Cramer said.
But then the market started spotting chinks in the consumer tech giant's armor as analysts lamented Apple's weaker-than-expected iPhone X sales. But Cramer argued that Apple's service revenues and the potential for billions of dollars in capital returns could make up for the losses.
"That has kept Apple in the lead at what I now regard as the race's midpoint," the "Mad Money" host said. "But this morning we got a piece of research from ... Mizuho that shortened Apple's distance from the pack rather dramatically. "
With the competition mounting, Cramer said Apple's lead could still fade. He turned to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' annual shareholder letter, released Wednesday.
In it, Bezos wrote that Amazon's paid delivery service, Amazon Prime, now has 100 million worldwide members and that more people joined Prime in 2017 than in any other year.
And despite President Donald Trump's ostensibly tax-related grudge against the e-commerce giant, the company seems to be weathering the Twitter-storm. Also in the shareholder letter, Bezos wrote that over five billion items were shipped to Prime members globally just in 2017.
"If the president stops tweeting and the [Supreme] Court rules in favor of the third-party sellers [and] Amazon's lucrative web services business stays strong, [the] trophy goes to Amazon, " Cramer said.
Cramer always thought that the stock of Google parent Alphabet could one day challenge the stock of Apple on price if Apple ever slipped up.
"Alphabet has come back into the race after what can only be described as a series of lost races where it was hung on guidance, " the "Mad Money" host said.
He grew even more bullish after Deutche Bank released a research note on Thursday labeling Alphabet a "buy" on the strength of Google Cloud, YouTube and its search business.
"An in-line quarter is what [the Deutsche analyst] is saying could push this stock ... to a photo finish," Cramer said.
After Morgan Stanley's note said that Microsoft's recent earnings results and guidance "should support a path to $1 trillion," Cramer didn't want to count this tech giant out, either.
"I have to agree," he said. "[CEO] Satya Nadella has switched the company's focus from the slow-growing Windows products and enterprise software to the cloud, namely Microsoft's incredibly fast-growing Azure business, as well as its shrewd LinkedIn acquisition. I like the prospects. "
At this point, Cramer admitted that "anything can happen" to push any one of these market leaders to the $1 trillion finish.
"Right now, though, Amazon's the one that could break free, break away from this three-horse pack to challenge Apple," he said. "Can it overtake the favorite? Not if Apple surprises to the upside this quarter. But if it misses and Amazon delivers, the roses may very well belong to Jeff Bezos. "
Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns share of Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft.