As Apple reaches the $500/share mark and achieves a market cap of $460 billion, a quick study uncovers an interesting fact: companies that achieve huge market caps don't usually hold them.
Of the companies that achieved the top five market capitalizations of all time, none is even remotely close to where it was at the peak.
Record holder Microsoft is more than 58 percent below its 1999 high, while Cisco has the dubious distinction of having lost the most from its high water mark—more than 80 percent.
Here's a look at how those top five have performed since seeing their market cap peak:
Microsoft : Peaked in 1999 at $615 billion, now at $256 billion (-58.3 percent)
General Electric : Peaked in 2000 at $594 billion, now at $199 billion (-66.2 percent) GE is a minority shareholder of NBCUniversal.
Cisco : Peaked in 2000 at $557 billion, now at $107 billion (-80.7 percent)
ExxonMobil : Peaked in 2007 at $527 billion, now at $402 billion (-23.5 percent)
Intel : Peaked in 2000 at $502 billion, now at $136 billion (-73 percent)
To be fair, the three tech stocks mentioned above all peaked during the technology bubble of 1999-2000, and were hardly alone in falling off their lofty financial perches.
Apple's current $460 billion market cap is tops in the S&P 500—the smallest is Supervalu at $1.44 billion.
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