Apple retook the title of world's most valuable company, a title briefly lost to Alphabet—the holding company that owns Google—earlier in the week. At the market's close on Thursday, Apple's market cap stood at $534.4 billion, while Alphabet's rose to $503.3 billion.
Shares of AAPL traded higher to close at $96.60, a gain of $0.77 (+0.80 percent), on light volume of 46 million shares. GOOGL ended the day at $730.03, a loss of $19.35 (-2.58 percent), on heavy volume of 5.2 million shares.
Year-long comparison of AAPL and GOOGL
(Tap for a larger image)
As shown in the chart below, GOOGL has been showing steady gains for much of the last year. The two companies finally flipped places when shares of AAPL sold off more than 1 percent one trading day before shares of GOOGL jumped more than 2 percent. GOOGL then gave back some of those gains.
In essence, both companies are valued the same—at over half a trillion dollars each—and there will likely be frequent flips as their respective stocks are affected by minor movements. We saw the same sort of back and forth when Apple and ExxonMobil traded places for the top spot for months back when oil was a thing.
We aren't likely to see any real space between the two companies until the next major catalyst from either or both of them enters the picture. A new product, sales surprises in either direction, major rumors of a product Wall Street thinks will be a success or failure, changes in company leadership—these are the kinds of things that could see either company's valuation make a significant shift.
*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.