Opinion Brief

Apple: The world's most valuable company?

In turbulent trading, the tech giant's market cap briefly surpasses ExxonMobil's, temporarily earning Steve Jobs and Co. the top spot on the S&P 500

The image: It may be an incredibly volatile time on the stock market, but things are still looking good for Apple. On Tuesday afternoon, the tech giant's market capitalization surpassed that of Exxon Mobil Corporation, making Apple the most valuable publicly traded company in the world (in terms of market cap) — at least for a little while. At 1:19 p.m., Apple had a market cap of $341.55 billion, with shares trading at $368.11, while Exxon had a market cap of $341.42 billion, with shares at $70.22. (See a screenshot below.) As the trading day continued, the two giants of industry volleyed back and forth for the top spot, and at the closing bell, Exxon had pulled back ahead, with a market cap of about $1.6 billion more than Apple's.

The reaction: "It's been quite a climb for the technology giant," says Benjamin Pimentel at MarketWatch. Ten years ago, Apple was ranked No. 287 (in terms of market cap) on the S&P 500. But let's remember, says Jordan Golson at MacRumors, that "Apple didn't pass ExxonMobil by rocketing up in price." It just "hasn't fallen as far during the current market downturn" as other companies have. Apple and Exxon are both several points off the peaks they've hit in recent weeks. And "the claim to biggest market value is largely symbolic," says Brendan Conway in The Wall Street Journal. Still, only a few weeks ago, a valuation gap of more than $50 billion separated the two companies. See for yourself:

Image courtesy: MacRumors.com

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