Apple Ends Wednesday as World’s Most Valuable Company

After spending most of Tuesday worth more than any other company on the planet, only to lose out in the final minutes of trading to Exxon Mobil, Apple officially ended Wednesday’s session with the title of “World’s Most Valuable Company” for the first time.

If you’re new to this saga, Apple was once characterized as “beleaguered,” and even today some folks are happy to make asses of themselves by declaring Apple’s imminent failure and doom.

In May of 2010, however, there was a symbolic changing of the guard as Apple overtook Microsoft as the world’s most valuable tech company, as determined by Wall Street and the stock markets. On May 26th, 2010, Apple ended the day with a market capitalization of US$222.12 billion, compared to Microsoft’s $219.18 billion.

While that was enough to rank as the world’s most valuable tech company, there was still one company with a higher market cap than Apple, and that was energy giant Exxon Mobil. At that time, Exxon was still far ahead of Apple in the lower $300 billion range.

That changed on Tuesday, when the two companies changed place for most of the trading session as the markets rallied and sent both companies higher. When we reported on the development, Apple had a market cap of $335 billion, while Exxon Mobile was valued at $328.6 billion (look below the chart for Wednesday’s valuations).

In the closing minutes of the session, the two companies changed position yet again, with Exxon Mobil reclaiming its position at #1 by gaining just a wee bit more in percentage terms than Apple, as noted by David Winograd for The Mac Observer.

Which brings us to Wednesday’s session, when the two companies seesawed back and forth throughout the day, as shown in the chart below (when the lines are close, Exxon is worth more, and when they are farthest apart, Apple is worth more). In a reversal from the day before, however, Wednesday’s change in places came about not by which company had gained the most, but which company lost the least.

If you look at the closing minutes of trading in the chart, Exxon (XOM) had another last minute rally, but the company still lost more in percentage terms than Apple, leaving Apple as the world’s most valuable company.

AAPL vs. XOM (in percentage terms)

AAPL vs. XOM in Wednesday’s Trading Session in Percentage Terms
Source: Yahoo! Finance

AAPL ended the day at $363.69, down $10.32 (-2.76%), with a market cap of $337.2 billion. XOM ended the day at $68.03, down $3.14 (-4.41%), with a market cap of $330.8 billion.

Please note two important things: Being “ranked” like this is symbolic in meaning, and that’s all. It doesn’t really mean anything per se, but at the same time, if Apple remains at #1, it will be the bellwether when Wall Street, analysts, pundits, fund managers, and investors talk about anything relating to being the world’s largest company.

The other thing is that the markets are in the midst of a major upheaval that has little to do with the performances of individual companies like Exxon and Apple, and everything to do with politics and global economics. These two companies could continue changing places going forward, whether or not the markets rally, fall, or bounce around all over the place like they have for the past several trading sessions. It’s a roller coaster ride for now.

*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.