Apple tops Exxon as most valuable company

@CNNMoneyInvest January 25, 2012: 4:25 PM ET
apple stock

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Apple nudged out oil giant ExxonMobil on Wednesday to become the most valuable publicly-traded company in the world.

The technology company's stock rose 6.3% to end at $446.66 a share, one day after Apple reported the best quarterly results in history for a tech company. That spike pushed the company's market value to $419 billion.

At that level, Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) has surpassed the perennial champ, Exxon (XOM, Fortune 500), which has a market value of $418 billion. Exxon's stock edged up 0.5% to $87.22 a share on Wednesday.

It remains to be seen how long Apple can maintain the title. Apple briefly surpassed Exxon for the first time last August, but the oil giant regained the top spot by the end of that day.

Apple's stellar quarter included a 73% jump in sales to $46.3 billion, a tech industry record. The company said its fiscal first-quarter profit more than doubled from a year earlier, rising to $13 billion, or $13.87 per share.

It was one of the most profitable quarters ever for any U.S. company, trailing only Exxon's record-setting $14.8 billion quarter from the fall of 2008, when oil prices were at an all-time high.

The oil company will report its quarterly results next week. It's expected to have earned $1.95 a share in the fourth quarter, up 6% from the same period last year, according to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

The analysts weigh in on Apple's $46 billion quarter

Apple's results helped boost shares of companies that make components for its products.

Chipmakers including Broadcom (BRCM, Fortune 500), Qualcomm (QCOM, Fortune 500) TriQuint (TQNT), ARM Holdings (ARMH), Cirrus Logic (CRUS) and Skyworks Solutions (SWKS) all surged.

Nuance Communications (NUAN), one of the companies responsible for Apple's voice recognition software Siri, gained 3%. Even Zagg (ZAGG), a maker of mobile device accessories, rose 4%.

An Apple store is worth as much as the White House

Apple's growth is a stunning achievement for a 35-year old company that had a market cap of just $10 billion a decade ago.

The company's turnaround began with the launch of the iPod, and growth really skyrocketed after the iPhone's release in 2007.

In the most recent quarter alone, Apple sold a whopping 37 million iPhones, twice what it sold in the same period a year ago.

IPad sales doubled to a record 15.4 million. Apple moved 5.2 million Macs, the first time Apple sold more than 5 million of its PCs in a quarter. The company also sold 15.4 million iPods during the holiday quarter, which ended Dec. 31.

Unsurprisingly, Apple topped CNNMoney's recent survey about the best tech company to invest in for the future.

Choosing Apple for the prestigious spot as one of the Four Horsemen of Tech, respondents noted that Apple is a frontrunner in the smartphone revolution.

Furthemore, its iPad created a new category of mobile computing, and Apple has embraced cloud computing with its high-profile iCloud.

-- CNNMoney's David Goldman contributed to this report.  To top of page

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