Business


Apple loses world’s most valuable company status



New York: Apple shares extended their losses on Friday, ending a miserable week for the California tech giant as it surrendered its position as the world's biggest company based on market value.

Apple ended down 2.36 per cent at $439.88, giving it a market capitalisation of $413 billion, while oil giant ExxonMobil rose 0.36 per cent to $91.68 with a market cap of $418 billion to edge into first place.

Apple first overtook ExxonMobil in August 2011 as the most valuable company in the world based on the value of its stock. A year later, Apple dethroned longtime rival Microsoft as the most valuable company in history based on the value of its stock at $622 billion.

But the company took a bruising this week after a gloomy forecast accompanying its record quarterly profit announcement prompted pessimism over the tech giant's slowing growth trajectory. Apple's profit was $13.1 billion on revenue of $54.5 billion in the fiscal quarter that ended on December 29, with sales of iPhones and iPads setting quarterly highs.

But despite those figures, investors soured on Apple after it forecast that revenue for the current quarter would range from $41-43 billion and that it would have a gross margin of 37.5 to 39.5 per cent, lower than expectations.

Analysts remained cautious about Apple, which had seen a meteoric rise last September to over $700 a share but slid 37 per cent since then. The company shed some $60 billion on Thursday and around $10 billion more on Friday. Some express concern that Apple has lost its edge in innovation since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs, and is losing ground to rivals such as Samsung, which leads the mobile phone market, and to others using Google's Android operating system.

Jinho Cho at Mirae Asset Securities said Apple will likely increase carrier subsidies in 2013 and launch an "entry-level" iPhone to compete better in emerging markets.

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