Apple (s aapl) surpassed Exxon Mobil Corporation (s xom) a couple of times during intraday trading to become the largest company as measured by market capitalization on Tuesday, and it managed to stay there until the close of the trading day on Wednesday. Market cap represents the price of individual shares, multiplied by the number of shares that have been authorized, issued and purchased by investors, and is a good indicator of public opinion regarding the company’s overall value. As of market closing, Apple’s lead over Exxon had extended to around $6.3 billion.
Exxon, an oil company, has seen its market cap steadily drop from a high of around $500 billion in 2009, while Apple’s has grown exponentially in that same time frame, thanks to successes like the iPhone and the iPad, along with a computer arm that has seen steady increases in sales. Market cap tends to reflect performance, and there’s little denying that Apple has been putting on quite a show in recent years, including a very successful last quarter.
Apple managed to handle the U.S.’s recent credit rating downgrade by the S&P with a bit more resilience than most, which probably helped it achieve this milestone today. But despite a bit of a resurgence yesterday for Apple, performance wasn’t so hot today for either company. Apple closed down 2.76 percent compared to yesterday, while Exxon fell further with a 4.41 percent drop.
Now that Apple’s on top, it just has to stay there. Continuing to do what it has been doing should be a pretty good way to accomplish that, but the company also appears to be hedging its bets with expert legal maneuvering. Considering that most analysts still have very ambitious target prices, it should stand a good chance of staying ahead for the near future.