NEW YORK, June 19 — Nvidia became the world’s most valuable company yesterday, dethroning tech heavyweight Microsoft MSFT.O as its high-end processors play a central role in a scramble to dominate artificial intelligence technology.

Shares of the chipmaker climbed 3.5 per cent to US$135.58, lifting its market capitalisation to US$3.335 trillion, just days after overtaking iPhone maker Apple to become the second most valuable company.

Microsoft’s stock market value was US$3.317 trillion as its shares dipped 0.45 per cent.

Apple’s stock slipped over 1 per cent, leaving its value at US$3.286 trillion.

Nvidia’s stunning surge in market value over the past year has become emblematic of a Wall Street frenzy driven by optimism about emerging AI technology.

While Nvidia’s rally has lifted the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to record highs, some investors worry that unbridled optimism about AI could evaporate if signs emerge of a slowdown in spending on the technology.

“It’s Nvidia’s market; we’re all just trading in it,” said Steve Sosnick, chief market strategist at Interactive Brokers.

Nvidia has also become by far the most traded company on Wall Street, with daily turnover recently averaging US$50 billion, compared to around US$10 billion each for Apple, Microsoft and Tesla, according to LSEG data. The chipmaker now accounts for about 16 per cent of all trading in S&P 500 companies.

Nvidia’s stock has nearly tripled so far this year, compared with a rise of about 19 per cent in Microsoft shares, with demand for its top-of-the-line processors outpacing supply.

Tech giants Microsoft, Meta Platforms and Google-owner Alphabet are competing to build out their AI computing capabilities and add the technology to their products and services.

An insatiable appetite for Nvidia’s AI processors, viewed as far superior to competitors’ offerings, has left them in tight supply, and many investors view Nvidia as the greatest winner to date from surging AI development.

“Nvidia has been getting a lot of positive attention and has been doing a lot of things very correctly, but a small misstep is likely to cause a major correction in the stock, and investors should be careful,” said Oliver Pursche, senior vice president at Wealthspire Advisors in New York.

Yesterday’s gain lifted Nvidia’s stock to a record high and added over US$110 billion to its market capitalisation, equivalent to the entire value of Lockheed Martin.

The company’s market value expanded from US$1 trillion to US$2 trillion in just nine months in February, while taking just over three months to hit US$3 trillion in June.

Since its blowout forecast about a year ago, the company has consistently breezed past Wall Street’s lofty expectations for revenue and profit, with demand for its graphics processors far outstripping supply as companies rush to embed AI applications.

Nvidia executives said in May that demand for its Blackwell AI chips could exceed supply “well into next year.”

Sharp increases in analysts’ expectations for Nvidia’s future earnings have outpaced its stellar stock gains, resulting in a fall in the stock’s earnings valuation.

Nvidia recently traded at 44 times expected earnings, down from over 84 about a year ago, LSEG data showed.

Increasing the appeal for its highly valued stock among individual investors, Nvidia last week split its stock 10-for-one.

Nvidia’s stock market value overtakes Microsoft and Apple Nvidia’s stock market value overtakes Microsoft and Apple. — Reuters