As Apple claws toward $1 trillion, ghost of past giants haunt it

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Published: August 2, 2018 2:21:14 PM

Apple Inc. may not have surpassed $1 trillion in market value in the wake of this week’s solid results, but it remains the world’s biggest company -- for now.

The iPhone maker’s shares jumped to 1.50 on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Apple Inc. may not have surpassed $1 trillion in market value in the wake of this week’s solid results, but it remains the world’s biggest company — for now. The iPhone maker’s shares jumped to $201.50 on Wednesday, leaving it about $27 billion short of the milestone, based on currently reported shares outstanding. Apple has now spent seven years as the largest firm on Earth, trailing only General Electric Co. for time at the top. GE’s two runs during the 1990s and early 2000s totaled 11 years.

Apple’s reign harks back to that of technology peer Microsoft Corp. in the 1990s, when the Windows developer jumped to the top spot during the tech boom. In the past two years, Microsoft has boosted its traded value markedly, though currently lags Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., as well as Apple.

The role of most valuable company has been short-lived for some who have worn the crown. Microsoft lost $370 billion in value in 2000 as it tumbled from its perch and only regained its 1999 market-cap peak last October. Since they last lost the title, Exxon Mobil Corp. and GE have lagged far behind S&P 500 returns.

Of course, PetroChina Co. soared after it debuted in a Shanghai share listing in November 2007, briefly giving it a market cap of more than $1 trillion in both China and Hong Kong. By the end of the subsequent year, it was worth less than $260 billion.

On current estimates, the Cupertino, California-based firm would need to hit $207.0425 a share to crown it as the first American company to surpass $1 trillion. That’s less than a 3 percent gain from its most recent closing level. The calculation uses the number of shares disclosed in its 10Q filing published Wednesday.

You need to go back to Exxon in 2011 to see another U.S. firm hold the title of biggest by market value, Bloomberg calculations based on year-end data, show.

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