Tag Archives: market capitalization

Apple Is Nowhere Close To Being The Biggest Company

Last week, Apple made headlines when its market valuation made it the most valued company in the world. What this meant was that investors thought that Apple was worth more than the oil companies, banks and tech giants that have the highest market capitalizations. However, that is just one measure of how big a company is: so how does Apple fare in other measures? Ars Technica addressed this issue back in February and here’s what they found:

  • By enterprise value, which is what another company would have to pay to buy them, Apple was 4th behind GE, Exxon and PetroChina
  • By cash balance, Apple was 82nd, a good dozen spots behind both Google and Microsoft, and really far behind the banks that were in the top five: Deutsche Bank, which was #1, had 974 billion$ to Apple’s 25 B$.
  • By asset value, which is all the physical stuff a company owns, Apple was 931st, again well behind Google and Microsoft. The top spot went to Electricite de France, which had 185 B$ in assets to Apple’s 6 B$.
  • By revenue — actual money they make from sales — Apple was 78th with 76 B$, beating Microsoft and wiping the floor with Google, but being dwarfed by Walmart and its 419 B$ revenues.
  • By cash flow, a.k.a. profits, Apple was 51st, close on Microsoft’s heels and way ahead of Google, but the top company in this category, Barclay’s, had about seven times as much cash flow. The other top companies were also banks.
  • By number of employees, Apple was 460th with 46,600 employees. Walmart again won with 2,100,000.

So Apple is only the biggest company by one measure and close by on a second, but falls way short on the other five. The article goes on to point out that if Walmart were to disappear overnight, the country would be crushed — not only by losing a lot of paychecks to employees, construction workers and maintenance personnel, but by the poor losing the ability to get cheap stuff. On the other hand, if Apple were to disappear, nothing significant would happen.

From Ars Technica, via Slashdot

Apple Is Now The World’s Most Valuable Company

At the close of business yesterday, investors thought Apple had more value than any other company: they were willing to pay 363$/share, making the total of all shares worth 337 billion$. The company from which Apple took the number one spot away was Exxon, who had held it since 2005. It turns out the recent debt ceiling crisis was good for Apple, since Exxon lost value due to the falling price of oil in the past week. However, by revenue, HP is still the biggest technology company: it made 32 billion$ last quarter, compared to Apple’s 30. But, investors must be pretty sure Apple has a lot more growth potential, because HP’s valuation is at about 64 billion$, a fifth of Apple’s.

Photo by Jorge Quinteros


Things have changed a lot since 2000, when Microsoft was the most valuable company and Apple was just making it’s way back from the brink of bankruptcy, after hiring back Steve Jobs. In fact, Microsoft and General Electric traded the number 1 spot a few times over the next five years, until 2005 when Exxon took over after the price of oil shot up and the iPod came out. Today, Microsoft isn’t even in the top five. Who is? A Chinese state-owned oil company called PetroChina, the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and an Australian/British oil and gas company called BHP Billiton.

There are two more oil companies in the top 10: Shell (which is officially a British company, but headquartered in the Netherlands) and a Brazilian one called PetroBras. Besides Apple and Microsoft, IBM is the only other technology company in the top 10. And the remaining one? Nestlé, a Swiss company. Five oil companies, three technology ones, one bank, and one food company: that says a lot about what we like as a species. It also says a lot about global pecking order: of the top ten companies, four are American, two British, two Chinese, one Brazilian, and one Swiss.