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 where it had closed Tuesday and an all-time high for the company. That put its market value — the total value of all its outstanding shares — at north of $418 billion. That catapulted Apple past Exxon, which had a slower start to its trading day as its market value shrank to about $413 billion.
The two later switched places several times, with Apple falling behind, then regaining the lead in the middle of the day, only to yield to a late rally by Exxon, which closed with a market value of $418 billion, $2 billion ahead of Apple.
Apple's market value has passed Exxon's a few times over the last year, only to be leapfrogged once again by the oil company. Both companies have seen their stock prices and market values shoot up in the last six months. In August, when Apple first passed Exxon, the companies were each worth about $339 billion.
On Tuesday, Apple said that during its holiday quarter it 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 newer iPhone 4S.