Exxon Mobil top again as Apple slides

EXXON Mobil Corporation has reclaimed its place as the largest United States publicly traded company by market value, one year after losing it to Apple, as shares of the technology giant extended their recent fall.

Craigs Investment Partners broker Chris Timms said yesterday that following the fall last week after Apple's result, its market cap had fallen to $US412 billion ($NZ493.48 billion), below Exxon Mobil's $US418 billion. This year, Apple had fallen 18%, while Exxon was up 6%. Apple trades on a single digit PE (price earnings ratio), while Exxon sat at 11.6 times, he said. Since September, Apple had seen its market value fall by $US247 billion, which is greater than the whole market value of IBM and equated to the total combined value of the bottom 66 companies in the S&P500.

Apple's market capitalisation has fallen by about $US250 billion - roughly the total market value of Google - since hitting a high last September, when the stock traded above $US700, Mr Timms said.

The reporting season continues this week with many more big names, including Exxon Mobil, Caterpillar, Amazon, Yahoo and Facebook. More than 100 companies, representing 23% of the S&P500, report this week. About 40 or so European companies are reporting also.

Apple shares traded as low as $US435 before closing down 2.4% on Friday (US time) at $US439.88, for a market value of roughly $US412 billion. Exxon shares, up 0.4% on the day to $US91.73, added to a market value of about $418.2 billion.

There was heavy volume in Apple shares as they hit the session low shortly before the closing bell, Mr Timms said. The stock dropped by as much as $US7, to $US435 from $US442, within the span of one second during the last minute of trading.

More than 50 orders were executed on NYSE Arca at $US435 a share, according to Thomson Reuters time-and-sales data, in blocks as small as 100 shares and as large as 10,494 shares.

No other exchange executed orders at a price lower than $US438 a share before the day's close. After those trades went through, the stock resumed its earlier levels around $US442 a share, before closing at $US439.88.

Apple shares slid 12.4% late last week - their biggest percentage drop since late September 2008 - as disappointing holiday-period iPhone sales reinforced fears the company is losing its dominance in smartphones. Apple shipped a record 47.8 million iPhones in the December quarter, up 29% from a year earlier. But that lagged the 50 million that analysts on average had projected.

Apple's reign as largest company by market value began in the last week of January 2012, when it surpassed Exxon.


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