I’m not interested in investing in large cap companies, but they are interesting to look at a superficial level. Sometimes this superficial analysis gets me very close to actually purchasing large cap companies (e.g. I thought Starbucks was a good purchase around $12/share back in late 2008/early 2009 when it was going through its coffee crisis during the economic crisis – I never did purchase them simply because there were so many other alluring securities trading at dirt cheap prices at this time).
Getting back to the original topic, looking at trailing 12 month P/Es (after subtracting net cash balances of both companies), Microsoft is at 12.1 and Google is at 15.9. So Microsoft is about a quarter cheaper than Google, just based on past earnings values.
Intuitively, Google looks like a much cheaper investment than Microsoft when you plug the question into your mind “Which company will be more relevant five years from now?”, or you can also use the more direct variant “Which company will grow its earnings more in five years from now?”. Both companies are in the revenue range ($74 billion for Microsoft and $43 billion for Google) where the law of large numbers is evoked – long gone are the days of 40% growth.
This is a fairly elementary analysis, but a hypothetical decision to invest a dollar in Google vs. a dollar in Microsoft is an easy decision. Google is probably the better medium term play.
However, I wouldn’t discount Microsoft’s chances too heavily – when I look at my own computing habits, I still see myself using a Microsoft operating system most of the time, and also Microsoft Office.
On this note of stickiness, as long as Yahoo doesn’t screw up their finance portal by adding in features which are utterly useless (e.g. how their news services are not filterable by content provider), I still find it to be my main “standby” webpage for just getting quick metrics on companies. I don’t know how they were able to be so sticky, but they way they present public information is a touch better than the others, including Google. If it wasn’t for Yahoo Finance, I’d find them to be completely useless.