Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Apple briefly passes Exxon as largest U.S. company


By Poornima Gupta and Rodrigo Campos

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc briefly edged past Exxon Mobil Corp to become the most valuable company in the United States after days of volatile stock market action.

The technology giant's market value rose on Tuesday to $341.5 billion, just above Exxon's $341.4 billion, even though the oil major's annual revenue is four times that of Apple's.

Exxon quickly regained the No. 1 spot as its shares rose and Apple's shed some of their gains, with stocks globally remaining volatile because of soft economic data and the downgrading of the United States' sovereign credit on Friday.

At 1:50 p.m. EDT Exxon's market cap was $339.3 billion while Apple's dipped to $338.8 billion.

Tuesday's move by Apple, which ended Exxon Mobil's run of more than five years at the top, capped a remarkable turnaround for a company that once teetered on the brink before Apple's Steve Jobs returned to resuscitate the company he co-founded.

Thirteen years ago, some analysts said Apple's value consisted of real estate holdings and cash on hand.

Apple joined, albeit briefly, a small group of companies that have held the top spot in the S&P 500, including General Electric, General Motors, IBM, Microsoft Corp and AT&T, according to Standard & Poor's Index Analytics

Since July 1, Apple's market capitalization has risen by more than $20 billion, fueled by optimism that a new version of its best-selling iPhone will lead to a monstrous second half of 2011.

Exxon's market cap, on the other hand, has slipped nearly $60 billion in the same period due to volatile crude oil prices.

(Additional reporting by Anna Driver in Houston; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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