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As Apple shares jump, firm briefly passes Exxon as most valuable

January 25, 2012 | 11:04 am

Applechina

Apple Inc.'s blowout quarter has pushed the electronics maker back into a neck-and-neck race with Exxon Mobil Corp. for the title of the world's most valuable company.

On Wednesday, Apple's stock opened at $454, nearly 7% higher than it had closed on Tuesday, and an all-time high for the company. That put its market value at north of $418 billion, surpassing Exxon Mobil, which had a slower start to its trading day as its market value shrank to around $413 billion.

But the two later switched places as Apple shares erased some of their gains and Exxon climbed back into first place with a market cap of $416 billion, about a billion ahead of Apple.

[Update, 11:06 a.m.: Apple is back on top, $417 billion to $415 billion.]

Apple has passed Exxon a few times over the last year, only to be leapfrogged once again by the oil company.  Both companies have seen their stock price and market value shoot up in the list six months.  In August, when Apple first passed Exxon, the companies' market value was each closer to $339 billion.

On Tuesday, Apple said that during its holiday quarter it had sold 37 million iPhones and 15 million iPads, both sales records for the company, and far outstripping analysts' expectations.  Chief executive Tim Cook said Apple had been having trouble keeping up with demand for the new iPhone 4S.

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-- David Sarno

Photo: Thousands of Chinese customers queue up outside an Apple store in Beijing.  Credit: AFP/Getty Images

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