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Apple’s Slide Briefly Makes Exxon Largest Publicly-Traded Company Once Again (XOM, AAPL)

After over a year in the number two spot for most valuable company in the world, oil behemoth Exxon Mobil (XOM) was finally able to push tech titan Apple Inc. (AAPL) aside, taking back its position on the list in intraday trading Friday.

Apple’s Rise to #1

Apple passed Exxon for most valuable company for the first time during the summer of 2011. The two companies went back and forth for the number one spot until Apple finally passed Exxon for good in early 2012.

For Apple, the opportunity to grow depends on the technology that it produces and how the company is able to deal with its competition. When Apple began building up excitement for the iPhone 5, and then released the highly anticipated product, the stock reached its all-time high of just over $705. In contrast, Exxon’s steady business of oil exploration and production stayed relatively stable during AAPL’s big growth phase — as did its share price.

For that reason, Apple was able to surpass Exxon for the top spot on the list. However, as Apple declined, Exxon saw a modest increase in its stock price, allowing it to take take the most valuable company spot.

Apple’s Big Decline

Apple released its first quarter earnings report on Thursday. Profit was $13.1 billion, or $13.81 per share, down -5% from last year’s first quarter earnings of $13.87 billion, or $13.87 per share. Although earnings did beat analysts estimates of $13.44 per share, APPL’s stock plunged over -12% Thursday — mainly due to its weaker-than-expected revenue and forecast.

Despite still being the most profitable company in the world, Apple’s stock price has been slammed more than 36% since its all-time highs hit on September 19, 2012 — only a little more than four months ago. While many investors and analysts alike expected AAPL’s share price to continue to climb indefinitely, a string of bad earnings reports and lowered expectations have the shares in a free fall. With the bulk of its growth now likely behind it, the company might need a new blockbuster product, or even a strategic acquisition, to resume its winning ways.

Apple certainly built up excitement with its new products and rising stock price. But with the last “new” product being released in 2010, many wonder how long Apple will be able to continue to grow releasing new versions of old products.

The Bottom Line

Exxon now has a market cap of about $417 billion, while Apple’s fluctuated between $412 billion and $419 billion on Friday. Apple may be back in the lead for now, but the race remains close, and the two companies may be battling for the number one spot for quite some time.

Apple Inc (AAPL) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) are not recommended at this time, with both stocks holding a DARS™ Ratings of 3.4 and out of 5 stars.

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks, as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system here.

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