Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Apple Tops the Charts Briefly

Markets around the world rebounded today, at least to a certain degree, from yesterday's plummet. In the midst of the rebound that saw the Dow rise some 429 points, Apple briefly surpassed Exxon to become the most valued company in the U.S.

Apple maintained its lead for a good portion of Tuesday afternoon before ultimately finishing the day just behind Exxon. The oil company giant's stock had gone down earlier in the day, which had allowed Apple to grab the lead.

In fairness, tech companies like Apple and Microsoft do hold an advantage over oil companies like Exxon. The growth of oil companies is to a large degree determined by factors like international oil prices and new oil being discovered. Apple, on the other hand, continues to produce enormously popular products like the iPad and the iPhone. The Cupertino-based company has been the tech industry's leading light for some time now, having surpassed Microsoft in 2010.

Gleacher & Co. analyst, Brian Marshall, perhaps put it best, when he said that "Exxon obviously sells a product that people need. Apple sells a product that people want." Although Apple has been around since 1976, according to Marshall, it's currently growing at the rate of a hot start-up.

A tech company taking over the top spot in the U.S. market is not necessarily a new development. Exxon and General Electric had been trading off for the no. 1 and no. 2 spots for years until 1999 when Microsoft leapfrogged them both at the height of the dot.com boom.

Microsoft held the top spot until the year 2000 when the dot.com crash allowed GE to recover ground and regain the top spot, which it mostly held until 2005, when it was usurped by Exxon.

However currently, Exxon and Apple are like two jockeys locked in a dead heat. Apple stock jumped 5.9 percent on Tuesday, giving it a market cap of $347 billion, just a half step behind Exxon's $348 billion cap.

But analysts are predicting that with their current momentum, Apple will get a nose out in front again and likely break away to lead the pack on a more long term basis.

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