Apple Inc briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil Corp on Tuesday as the US’ most valuable company.
The iPhone and iPad maker had the lead for much of the afternoon before its stock closed just behind Exxon’s. The two companies are so close that Apple is likely to keep the top spot soon.
Apple Inc’s stock gained 5.9 percent to US$374.01 on Tuesday, bringing its market capitalization to about US$347 billion.
Exxon Mobil Corp’s stock, meanwhile, closed up 2.1 percent at US$71.64. That gives the oil company a market cap of US$348 billion. Its stock was down earlier in the day, allowing Apple to take the lead.
Other big-name corporations, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and General Electric Co (GE), don’t even come close. Apple overtook Microsoft Corp, the previous No. 2, just last year.
Does this mean people need iPads more than oil?
“Exxon obviously sells a product that people need. Apple sells a product that people want,” said Brian Marshall, an analyst with Gleacher & Co who follows Apple.
Exxon, which set a record in 2008 for the highest quarterly earnings by any company, has limited growth prospects, which are driven by oil prices and discovering new oil. It’s growing, but not as quickly as Apple, which is charging ahead at the pace of a startup, Marshall says, even though the company is 35 years old.
International companies that vie for the most valuable spot in the world include PetroChina Co (中國石油天然氣), the publicly traded unit of China’s biggest oil and gas company, and Petrobras, Brazil’s state-controlled energy company.
In the US, Exxon and GE had been trading off the No. 1 and No. 2 spots until Microsoft surpassed them both in early 1999, at the height of the dot-com boom. By 2000, though, GE was No. 1 once again. According to data from FactSet, the three were close over the next five years, though Apple was ascending quickly.
Exxon Mobil, which is based in Irving, Texas, took the top spot in 2005 and, for now, remained there on Tuesday.