Apple (AAPL) replaced Exxon (XOM) as the biggest stock in the world in 2012, but if it falls just a few more percentage points from here, Exxon will re-take the No. 1 spot. Apple's action over the last year harkens back to another big tech stock's action in the late 1990s -- Microsoft (MSFT). In 1999, during the height of the Internet bubble, Microsoft (MSFT) also became the biggest company in the world. But it didn't hold the title for long. Following its peak on Dec. 28, 1999, MSFT fell nearly the exact same amount over the same period of time that Apple has fallen since it peaked in September.
In the first chart below, we compare MSFT's price action from December 1997 through December 2000 to AAPL's price action from September 2010 to present. The chart is set up so that the peaks in price for each stock are reached on the same day. As you can see, if AAPL continues to trade like MSFT did, the stock is not even close to a bottom.
In the second chart below, we show the percentage drop from each stock's peak in price. Within 106 trading days from its peak in late 1999, MSFT was down 48% and it took 194 trading days for MSFT to fall 50%. Apple is currently 85 trading days removed from its all-time high.