Amazon’s $500 billion market milestone marks its status as corporate titan

Amazon’s market capitalization topped a half-trillion dollars Wednesday. That’s an exclusive circle that includes only three other publicly traded U.S. companies, including crosstown rival Microsoft.

Observers have often speculated that Amazon.com might become the first company worth a trillion dollars. On Wednesday, a day before the release of its second-quarter financial results, it got halfway there.

Shares of the e-commerce giant closed up 1.2 percent at $1,052.80 Wednesday, bringing Amazon’s market capitalization to $503.2 billion, the first time it has surpassed the half-trillion mark.

It’s an exclusive club that includes only three other publicly traded U.S. companies: Apple, Alphabet and crosstown rival Microsoft, which saw its shares surge past that mark for the second time in its history in January.

To be sure, $500 billion is just a number — it changes nothing about Amazon’s positioning versus its rivals. Before passing the market milestone, Amazon already had been America’s fourth-largest company and the eighth-largest employer in the Fortune 500. And other companies, such as Exxon Mobil and General Electric, have been part of the $500 billion circle in the past and then seen their market value dip below that significant threshold.

But it stands as a sign of how favorably Wall Street views tech companies, and in particular, Amazon — a major disrupter with a confederacy of businesses that range from retail to the very profitable rental of computing power and storage.

It also legitimizes the two-decade-old company’s status as one of the corporate titans of this era.

“It’s almost mind-blowing,” said Tuna Amobi, an analyst with CFRA, an investment-research firm, of how quickly Amazon’s market cap has grown in the past few years.

“It’s not the same company that arguably existed five years ago,” he said. The market-value number signals not only Amazon’s prowess in retail, but also its achievements in cloud computing, media production and a bevy of other sectors.

It has some local impact. Pricier shares fill the wallets of tens of thousands of Amazonians working in Seattle who own Amazon stock or stock options (including CEO Jeff Bezos, who according to Forbes is now very close to dethroning Bill Gates as the richest man in the world). It also helps in the recruitment efforts of the company, which has 50,000 job openings at its warehouses and thousands of…

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