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Apple stakes claim to being most valuable public company ever

August 20, 2012|By David Lazarus | This post has been updated and corrected. See the notes below for details
  • Apple has surpassed Microsoft's record as the most valuable publicly listed company in history.
Apple has surpassed Microsoft's record as the most valuable publicly… (AFP/Getty Images )

Apple is now the most valuable public company in history.

Let's say that again: Most. Valuable. Company. Ever.


The tech giant's stock has once again hit a new high, giving it a market value of about $622 billion in intraday trading. That whips the previous record of $618.9 billion set by Microsoft on Dec. 30, 1999, at the tippy-top of the dot-com bubble.

However, that doesn't take into account inflation. In inflation-adjusted dollars, Microsoft was worth about $850 billion in its heyday. It's now valued at about $257 billion.

I remember way back when -- man, I sound old saying this -- when Apple was a well-regarded but not very lucrative presence in the PC market. As recently as 2004, the company was valued at less than $10 billion.

That was pre-iPhone. And pre-iPad.

Now, well, everyone else in Silicon Valley has been reduced to wanna-bes.

Apple isĀ on pace to be the world's largest tech company in terms of sales by the end of the year and is among the most profitable companies in the world.

In the last three months of 2011, Apple earned $13 billion. That's second only to ExxonMobil's pocket-bulging $14.8-billion quarter from the fall of 2008, when oil prices were at an all-time high.

Can Apple maintain the win streak? I have two words for you: Apple TV.

I guess Steve Jobs always knew it was his world. The rest of us just live in it.

[Updated, 12:43 p.m., Aug. 20: Join business columnist David Lazarus and markets reporter Walter Hamilton at 3 p.m. PDT for a live chat about Apple's stock.]

[For the Record, 11:10 a.m. Aug. 20: An earlier version of this post said 2004 was before the iPod and iTunes. They debuted in 2001.]

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