Apple Inc.

Stock Market Cage Match: Traders on Whether Apple Or Microsoft Is the Better Buy

Don Emmert | AFP | Getty Images

It's a battle royal between the two largest S&P 500 stocks.

In one corner of the ring, Microsoft keeps hitting records; in the other, Apple has not reached a new high since January.

CNBC's "Trading Nation" asked two traders which is the better bet: the champion Microsoft or recent underdog Apple?

"It depends on what you value more. Do you value … catch-up or do you value long-term growth?" Gina Sanchez, CEO of Chantico Global and chief market strategist at Lido Advisors, said Thursday.

Apple's comeback from the pandemic lows has slowed since January. While up 100% from a 52-week low, it has fallen 10% from its Jan. 25 high. The shares are down nearly 2% this year even as the XLK tech ETF has gained 8%.

"Now if you look at just pure valuation, believe it or not, Microsoft is actually not trading at as high a premium as Apple is, so even though Apple is absolutely cheaper, Microsoft is actually cheaper relative to its own history," she said.

Sanchez said Microsoft is trading around 20% above its long-term valuations, high but justified given her outlook for its sales growth trends.

JC O'Hara, chief market technician at MKM Partners, said Microsoft looks to be the stronger contender here. However, that's not the name he's betting on.

"When you look at Apple and you look at Microsoft, they both trade with such a high degree of positive correlation between their price action. So what that makes me think here is that Apple could be the best trade to buy right now," O'Hara said during the same interview.

Just as Microsoft last week began to break out to new highs, O'Hara predicts Apple will do likewise soon.

"If Apple starts to build momentum and break new highs, a lot more eyes are going to be watching this stock, so we're not buying leadership, we're buying a laggard, we're buying something that's slowly starting to improve," he said.

Disclosure: Lido owns MSFT and AAPL. Sanchez holds MSFT.


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