How did Steve Jobs do it? Apple (briefly) tops Exxon Mobil to claim most valuable company title

It wasn’t that long ago that we were writing about Apple surpassing Microsoft to claim the title of the most valuable technology company. (In fact, it was just 15 months ago). But now the Steve Jobs-led juggernaut has hit yet another impressive milestone, rising above Exxon Mobil in trading today to claim the mantle of most valuable business in the world. (See updates below).

Earlier today, Apple rose more than two percent, giving it a whopping market value of $333 billion. That compares to Exxon Mobil, which dropped more than three percent, with a market value of $328 billion.

This has to be one of the greatest turnarounds in business history. After all, as Bloomberg notes, Apple was close to bankruptcy just before Jobs returned to the helm. However, Jobs made some critical bets, transforming Apple into a consumer gadget powerhouse with devices such as the iPod, iPhone and, most recently, the iPad.

Meanwhile, investors shaved more from Microsoft today, with the company now showing a market value of $202 billion. (We’ll update the post as soon as the markets close, but it doesn’t appear like Exxon Mobile will regain the lead today).

UPDATE 12:43 P.M.: Wow, both companies are neck-and-neck, with Exxon Mobil erasing most of the early losses. Now, Exxon has moved into the positive, and is showing a $341 billion market value. Apple also is surging, with a market value standing at $341 billion. Curious, who will end up on top?

UPDATE 1:15 P.M.: A late rally pushed Exxon Mobil back into positive territory, giving the oil and gas producer a market value of $348.3 billion. That just edged out Apple, which also rallied more than five percent on the day, to finish trading with a market value of $346.7 billion. (I’ve altered the headline above to reflect the closing bell prices). This heated race is going to be interesting to watch. Which company would you bet on right now?

Here’s a closer look at Apple’s 10-year rocket ship ride.

Meanwhile, here’s more chatter on why Apple is surging past Exxon Mobil, including this gem from one of the talking heads at MarketWatch.

“It costs more to go out and find a couple billion dollar barrels worth of oil and drill it out of the ground, then do this stuff.”

Later, the host of the program wonders if Apple employees will pop some Champagne now and get “blind drunk.”

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Apple on becoming the Exxon Mobil of technology!

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Apple on becoming the Exxon Mobil of technology!

  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/535519-nick-p nick price

    Congratulations for Apple

  • John

    How?

    1.  Outsource manufacturing to location with very cheap labour, who work long hours
    2.  Create pretty packaging and sell at very high margins
    3.  Create brand loyalty where users are blind to planned obsolescence and line up every few months to buy next model that includes features held back from previous model
    4.  Hold onto loads of cash, don’t give anything away, not even to educational and health needs
    5.  Rinse.  Repeat.
    6.  You win.

    Not a bad formula for success, eh? 

    • Guest

      John, this is a good analysis. I’m confused about why a company would be expected to “give anything away,” such as “to educational and health needs.” Could you give us some colour on that?

      • John

        I would love to see a breakdown of large tech companies and their charitable contributions (corporate or by founder(s)).  It is not an expectation nor an obligation, but it is nice to see some companies and founders do something with their wealth, other than sit on it.

        Regardless, it’s pretty simple, it’s done for:

        a)  tax write offs
        b)  giving something back
        c)  all of the above

        What if Apple donated 100 million iPod/Touchs’ plus educational software packages to public schools?  A nice tax break and it wouldn’t hurt their bottom line one iota.  Might even generate more future U.S. employees rather than having to outsource?

        More than anything I find it peculiar that Apple receives such worship while Exxon receives such hisses-and-boos.  They are both mainstream businesses who put profits way ahead of people.

        Does anyone remember when Apple was cool because it was part of the counter-culture (IBM was “The Man” — remember those 1984 spots?).  You can’t be mainstream and the largest company in the world and not lose your cool factor at some point, since someone will come nipping on your heels to fulfill that position.

        The irony that Windows/Mobile used “Be Here Now” in their original ad campaign is not lost on those of us to get a laugh out of the role-reversal position that implied, directly toward Apple. (Hint:  It was the title of a book).

        • Guest

          Apple is a business, not a charity. It is simply not rational for them to give away 100 million iPods when they can sell those iPods.

          Selling iPods creates additional sales and use tax revenue. It encourages the accessories and app industries which generate even more tax revenue. Apple has created many billions in revenue in a whole new ecosystem for the knowledge economy.

          Donating stuff doesn’t create jobs or economic benefits. Selling stuff does.

          • http://www.JakeMiller.Me Jake Miller

            How about giving people iPods and getting them used to the ecosystem. Taking a brief loss (if they even are..) is worth it if the customer buys a macbook next year. or an iPhone because they are used to their iPod touch.. etc. its simple

          • Guest

            Why give people iPods if they were going to buy them anyway? It’s not like people are unfamiliar with the product.

          • http://www.JakeMiller.Me Jake Miller

            Your right thats why they give away $100 itunes/app store gift cards now. lol (ecosystem)

          • Guest

            Jake, I’m sorry that you don’t understand the difference between a purchase incentive (buy X and we’ll give you Y) and a charitable contribution (here’s a Y; please buy more).

  • John

    John – I know it makes for a good headline, but your facts are incorrect. Apple and Exxon are close in terms of market cap, but companies are valued based on Enterprise Value (add in debt, subtract out cash). Given Apple’s capital structure (lots of cash and no debt), their enterprise value is significantly less than Exxon…

  • http://www.JakeMiller.Me Jake Miller

    1) Invent/Create the personal computer as we know it
    2) Charge as much as possible for it
    3) Refresh the product line every year with a killer marketing campaign.

    • Guest

      As far as I know, the term “personal computer” was actually coined by Apple.

      • http://www.JakeMiller.Me Jake Miller

        nah it was by Dr. Henry Edward Roberts founder of a little thing called MITS..

        • Guest

          Altair? What version of Mac OS did that run?

  • SteveJobs

    Well let me be clear. As great as I am, and I’m pretty terrific if I do so say so, I couldn’t have done it without prodigious help from Steve Ballmer. May he be MS’s CEO for another decade or until they go bankrupt, whichever comes first.

  • Jfsdofeoj

    Apple  is better than google now

  • Anonymous

    Uhh, market cap is not really the best indicator of “most valuable company”.

    ExxonMobil’s revenue is many MANY times greater than that of Apple, not to mention, net income, revenue, and net assets.

    Also, would you rather invest in a company that sells phones and computers to a limited and select group of consumers, or a company that produces energy for the whole planet?

    Sensationalist news articles are one thing, actual economic fact is another.