Apple Rules the S&P 500 With Highest Weighting for Any Company Since 1980

A new Apple store in London in late July.


Dan Kitwood/Getty Images



Apple

truly is the champ.

As of Tuesday, the world’s largest company by stock market value, at $2.7 trillion, accounted for 7.3% of the S&P 500 index. That is the highest weighting for any stock in the index based on records going back to 1980, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The weighting of Apple (ticker: AAPL) now exceeds that of those of all other top companies in the S&P 500 over the past four decades. On that list are



IBM

(IBM),



Exxon Mobil

(XOM), General Electric (GE), and



AT&T

(T), each a beneficiary of a different phase of the U.S.’s economic history.

Apple, whose shares were up 0.9% to $170.73 Thursday, has seen its weighting in the



S&P 500

rise slightly this year. Its stock has fallen 4% while the index is by off 11%. Charlie Bilello, the CEO of Compound Capital Advisors, noted on



Twitter

that Apple had taken the lead.

In the mid-1980s, before personal computers were widely in use, IBM was the market leader with its dominant position in mainframes. Its weighting in the S&P 500 peaked at 6.4% in 1985, when its market value was $96 billion. That isn’t much below its current market capitalization of $118 billion.

 AT&T was the top stock in the S&P 500 at the end of 1981, when the telephone business was largely a monopoly. Its high-water mark, when it accounted for 5.5% of the index and had a market cap of $47 billion, came before its break-up in 1984. Back in 1981, before the decade’s bull market began, the entire market value of the S&P 500 was about $800 billion, against $37 trillion now.

Exxon Mobil was the market leader in 2008, when oil prices hit nearly $150 a barrel. It had a 5% weighting in the S&P 500 and a market value of $406 billion, compared with $377 billion now.

Exxon was dethroned as the top stock by Apple about a decade ago and now ranks 11th in the index after a nearly 50% gain this year.

At the end of 1999,



Microsoft

was the top stock as the tech bubble peaked, but it was soon topped by General Electric, in its heyday as CEO Jack Welch built the company into an enormous conglomerate. GE was the No. 1 stock at the end of 2000, at a 4% weighting in the index with a market value of more than $500 billion. The company then began a long slide, leaving it with a current market value of $85 billion, as Barron’s noted in a recent bullish cover story on the stock.

Apple has the biggest profits of any company in the S&P 500 and pays the biggest dividends. The iPhone maker is expected to earn nearly $100 billion after taxes in its current fiscal year, which ends in September.

 Shareholders are being paid their quarterly dividends Thursday.



Berkshire Hathaway

(BRK/A, BRK/B), the No. 3 holder with 915 million shares, will get about $200 million of the roughly $3.7 billion Apple is disbursing.

Write to Andrew Bary at andrew.bary@barrons.com

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