Apple most valuable US firm

2011-08-11 12:16

New York – Investors seem to think you want an iPad more than oil, as Apple became the most valuable company in the United States, surpassing Exxon Mobil.

Apple briefly flirted with the top spot on Tuesday afternoon before settling back slightly below the oil giant.

Yesterday was the first time that Apple managed to stay No. 1 after the stock market closed.

Apple’s stock fell 2.8% to close at $363.69, which brings the iPhone and iPad maker’s market capitalisation to $337 billion (R2.4 trillion).

Exxon’s stock fell 4.4% to close at $68.03.

That gives the oil company a market cap of $331 billion.

The change of the guard took place two days after global markets saw its worst fall since 2008 as investors worried about the US credit downgrade and the possibility of another recession.

Exxon had been the most valuable company since 2005, and Apple only took No. 2 in May last year when it surpassed Microsoft.

The power shift, while largely symbolic, is a substantial milestone for Apple, which has enjoyed a triumphant comeback since the 1990s, when it struggled to stay afloat before Steve Jobs returned to take the helm.

But it’s not just the comeback.

Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall says Apple is giving investors something that has never been seen before.

Apple’s numbers are huge, with nearly $30 billion in revenue in the latest quarter, for example. Yet Marshall said the 35-year-old company is “growing like a startup”.

“Even in 2008 and 2009 Apple grew like a weed and the world was coming to an end,” Marshall said.

Apple grew its net income 70% to $14 billion and its revenue 52% to $65 billion in the fiscal year that ended last September.

A year earlier, even as other companies – though not Exxon – were reeling from the economic meltdown, Apple’s earnings grew 35% and its revenue 14%.

Apple wasn’t always a tech darling.

The company once known as Apple Computer Inc. was on a steep decline before Jobs returned in 1997.

With Jobs as CEO, Apple dreamed up gadgets that people didn’t even think they needed until they got their hands on them – or saw friends and relatives with them.

There were music players, smartphones and tablet computers before Apple introduced the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

But the Apple gadgets’ sleek, minimalist design and intuitive software gave them a loyal following not just by tech geeks but the everyday consumers.

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