San Francisco/Dubai — Apple  briefly became the world’s most valuable company with its market value overtaking Saudi Aramco in the wake of better-than-expected earnings.

Apple rose as much as 7.1% on Friday, touching a record market capitalisation of $1.765-trillion. It’s the first time the company’s valuation has surpassed that of Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, which made its market debut in Riyadh in December. Before that, Apple had vied with Microsoft for the title of the US’s largest public company.

The horse race with Aramco comes after a tumultuous period for the Saudi company. Its initial public offering (IPO) fell short of Crown Price Mohammed bin Salman’s expectations. The kingdom’s de facto ruler initially wanted a valuation of $2-trillion and to raise $100bn. But after foreign investors balked at the pricing, the government settled on a smaller domestic offering and raised about $30bn, still the largest IPO ever.

Then came this year’s plunge in crude prices as energy demand crashed with the spread of the coronavirus. Aramco’s second-quarter revenue probably dropped to about $37bn from $75bn a year earlier, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That’s less than the $59.7bn in sales that Apple reported for the most recent period.

Aramco’s stock is down 6.4% since the end of December, though that’s far less than the fall of other oil majors. ExxonMobil has declined 38% and Royal Dutch Shell has dropped 47%.

Apple, meanwhile, has benefited as the pandemic has strengthened the market positions of the world’s biggest technology companies, which boast strong balance sheets and fast-growing businesses thanks to an acceleration in the shift to digital services. The iPhone maker has added more than $1-trillion in market value so far this year.


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