Two years ago, Apple overtook Exxon as the world’s most valuable company. It was a heck of a feat for a Silicon Valley company: for the first time, the world seemed to value silicon computer chips more than the bubbling, black goo of long dead dinosaurs. The future seemed rosy, and in the following months, Apple’s share price eventually rose to over $700 a share… before cratering thanks to bizarre Wall Street pessimism.
Somehow, though, even though analysts are bleaker about Apple’s futures than they have ever been, Cupertino has once more managed to claw the title of world’s most valuable company from Exxon. How?
Last night when the markets closed, Apple closed with a market cap of around $415 billion, at a share price of $456.68. Exxon, on the other hand, had a market cap of only $412.31 billion against a share price of $92.73. The reason? Exxon has issued a far greater number of outstanding shares than Apple: 4.45 billion to Apple’s relatively paltry 908.5 million.
Why’d Exxon go down? Falling oil prices and disappointing quarterly earnings.
In truth, Exxon will probably be back on top in the blink of an eye. But, you know, to me, one of these companies represents a future of imagination, exploration and green-friendliness, and the other is largely about continuing to burn away our natural resources. It’s depressing the market’s so willing to continuously reward that.