As investors continue to punish Apple stock — even after the company posted its best revenues and profits ever on Wednesday — Apple’s run as the world’s most valuable publicly held company has come to an end. Exxon Mobil’s market cap hit $416.1 billion Friday morning, as Apple’s slipped to $414.7 billion. It’s not a surprise to those watching Apple’s stock the last few days. The symbolism, however, is bigger than Apple: it’s significant that a tech company is no longer perched atop the business world.
This is the first time Apple and Exxon have switched places since last January, when Apple overtook the oil company in market capitalization.
But Apple shares have been on a rollercoaster since September when they hit their peak at $702.10. This week Apple’s stock has dropped precipitously after posting its highest-ever revenues ($54 billion) and profits ($13 billion) and all-time best iPhone and iPad sales of 48 million and 22 million, respectively, during its fiscal first quarter of 2013. Shares are currently valued below $440, after being priced above $510 going into earnings on Wednesday.
Investors are deeply worried that Apple’s profits are no longer growing as fast as they once were and fear Apple is losing ground too fast to competitors like Samsung in both smartphones and tablets. Apple CEO Tim Cook used his time on the company’s earnings call this week to try to instill confidence into analysts that the company’s future is bright and that Apple knows what it’s doing when it comes to making products people will buy and pricing them appropriately and that it has a product pipeline that is “chock-full” of innovative ideas. Thus far, however, his speech does not appear to have had the calming effect he intended.
Update: At the close of the stock market Friday at 1 p.m. PT, Exxon remained on top, but just barely: its market cap stands at $417 billion, and Apple’s is just behind at $416.32.