The Apple Inc. logo is seen before the start of an Apple Inc. event in California, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

As Apple Claws to $1 Trillion, Ghost of Past Giants Haunt It

(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. may not have surpassed $1 trillion in market value in the wake of this week’s solid results, but it remains the world’s biggest company -- for now.

The iPhone maker’s shares jumped to $201.50 on Wednesday, leaving it about $27 billion short of the milestone. At that price, Apple is still holding on to its ranking as the largest firm on Earth, for a seventh year, trailing only General Electric Co. for time at the top. GE’s two runs during the 1990s and early 2000s totaled 11 years.

As Apple Claws to $1 Trillion, Ghost of Past Giants Haunt It

Those long runs are more the exceptions than the rule over the past two decades, and the role of most valuable company has been short-lived for some who have worn the crown. Microsoft Corp. lost $370 billion in value in 2000 as it tumbled from its perch at the top and only regained its 1999 market-cap peak last October. Since they last lost the title, Exxon Mobil Corp. and GE have lagged far behind S&P 500 returns.

In Asia, PetroChina Co. soared after it debuted in a Shanghai share listing in November 2007, briefly giving it a market cap of more than $1 trillion in both China and Hong Kong. By the end of the subsequent year, it was worth less than $260 billion.

On current estimates, Cupertino, California-based Apple would need to hit $207.0425 a share to crown it as the first American company to surpass $1 trillion. While that’s less than a 3 percent gain from its closing level yesterday, Apple fell 0.8 percent in premarket trading on Thursday. The calculation uses the number of shares disclosed in its 10Q filing published Wednesday.

As Apple Claws to $1 Trillion, Ghost of Past Giants Haunt It

You need to go back to Exxon in 2011 to see another U.S. firm hold the title of biggest by market value, Bloomberg calculations based on year-end data, show.

Back in the 1990s technology boom, Apple’s peer Microsoft jumped to the top spot. In the past two years, Microsoft has boosted its traded value markedly, though it hasn’t kept up with the rocketing growth of Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., which immediately trail Apple in market value.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.