Apple briefly becomes most valuable company -- again

A huge quarterly performance sends shares of the company up 6%.

By Kim Peterson Jan 25, 2012 12:07PM
Image: Arrow Up (© Photodisc/Photolibrary)Updated 5:20 p.m. ET

(AAPL) smashed through its former 52-week high Wednesday to once again become the world's most valuable company -- for less than a day.

Investors are still reeling from Apple's truly momentous earnings report for the final quarter of last year. We were expecting big numbers, but nothing this big: Profit more than doubled in a year to $13.1 billion, and revenue soared 73% to top $46 billion.

And Apple's cash holdings have grown to almost $98 billion. Its cash alone is worth more than all but 52 companies on Earth, notes Dennis Berman of The Wall Street Journal.

Apple shares rose more than 6% Wednesday to $447.62, placing its market value at $417 billion. For much of the day that was higher than the $413 billion market value for Exxon Mobil (XOM), which previously held the title of most valuable company.

But Exxon came back late in the day with just a slight share price increase of .05%. Because the company has so many shares outstanding -- 4.79 billion -- that was enough to push its market cap up to about $418 billion. Apple only has 932 million outstanding shares, and it closed the day with a market value of $416 billion.

The following video has more analyst discussion about Apple's cash hoard.

Post continues below.
Apple and Exxon have danced this dance before. Apple briefly replaced Exxon as most valuable company last August, and the two have been neck and neck at times since then. But there's an interesting difference between the two: "Exxon obviously sells a product that people need. Apple sells a product that people want," Brian Marshall, an analyst with Gleacher & Co., told the Associated Press last August.

So where does Apple go from here? Can the company maintain this unbelievable momentum? And what is Apple going to do with all that cash?

Analysts think there is still opportunity for Apple's stock price to continue rising. The iPhone demand in China is bonkers, and Apple has plenty of room there. Apple's still the only major player in the tablet market -- it says it doesn't even see any effect from Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire -- and the next version of the iPad is reportedly coming this year.

And then there are Mac sales, which rose 26% to hit a record in the same quarter that global PC sales saw a 1.4% decline.

If there ever was a company firing on all cylinders, Apple is it.
Jan 25, 2012 2:22PM
This is fantastic that Apple has attained this level on the world market.  Now as Americans we need to convince Apple that they need to manufacture their products in the USA and sacrifice 10-15% of their huge profits.   
The sheep are herding.  The sheep have no savings, no retirement savings, an underwater mortgage, etc.  Quick run out and buy that made in China POS, now your somebody, not!!!!
Jan 25, 2012 1:59PM

People need to understand that companies like Apple are successful because of the way they push their products. It seems each product has a life of 6 months before it is replaced by a newer "superior" model. So everyone runs out to grab that one. While the previous version sits in a landfill.

Advertising (especially to the young) is quite effective and billions are spent to grab their attention.

Google "Zeitgeist : Addendum" , It's a free online movie that explains how our money system works and how huge corporations (like apple) really operate.

Jan 25, 2012 2:17PM
truth, you hit it right on.  The younger generations are just sheep and the gadgets work for them.  They have welfare money to spend and do not laugh at this statement.  Give them a pell grant and pile them up in a 450 a month rental and you see that all over now where live.  Or, go live with mommy and daddy and exhaust their retirement funds...and, that gambit is pretty much done and over with.  Entitlement is fantastic for out nation's future!
Jan 25, 2012 2:33PM
Apple is no better than Wal Mart.   Built their kingdoms on foreign slave labor.   If it wasn't for the imbalances in trade they would not be as wealthy as they are.
Jan 25, 2012 3:54PM
Barenoch... Why wouldn't we want more manufacturing jobs in the US.  This creates wealth at home and helps to improve the GNP/Trade Deficit.  Companies need to be profitable especially in a global market, but Americans can affect how and were the profits are made.  I quit buying Nike and Addidas athletic shoes and only by New Balance made in America.  I make sure that my vehicles with American logos are primarily built in the US.  The lumber I buy comes from the US.  Where I can, I voice my vote by buying American and supporting American businesses that produce there goods and services in the United State.  If just 100 million more Americans did the same, we would not have to worry as much about the rest of the world economy.
Jan 25, 2012 2:29PM
Jan 25, 2012 2:47PM
Apple will possibility be the greatest company on Earth for the simple fact. The Logo Kick's a** I never knew that it was Steve Jobs sitting down! That'ssTightttnness. LoL 
Jan 25, 2012 2:56PM

the only thing apple has going for it is the iphone and the ipod once they loose that advantage down they go again


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