Apple Inc. shares closed at 411.63 on Monday, an all-time high for the company. This gives it a market capitalization (number of shares times price per share) of about $382 billion. I say "about" becasue I've seen conflicting reports; Mikey Campbell of the Wall Street Journal says that the number is $382.01 billion and Nick Bilton of the New York Times says that the number is $381.62 billion. What is not in dispute is that this puts Apple above ExxonMobil, which has long been the largest company in the world. Now I realize that the significance of this event is up for debate, and there are other ways to value a company besides market cap. I certainly don't believe that the rise and fall of stock prices always reflects the quality of a company's products or is a true measure that one company is "better" than another company. Nevertheless, this is a milestone for Apple, plus it demonstrates that a lot of investors are happy with what Apple is doing, something that many happy iPhone and iPad owners would not debate. While acknowledging that this is a "dubious comparison," Campbell of the Wall Street Journal notes that "if market cap were GDP, Apple would have one of the world's thirty-biggest economies, on par with Austria, Argentina and South Africa." AAPL stock from 1981 to today. Data from New York Times Markets Analysis Tool. The most amazing thing of all, of course, is that Apple's stock price has risen after Steve Jobs retired from the company. For many years, analysts predicted that Apple's stock would collapse after Jobs left. I don't think it is an accident that this didn't happen, but instead is the result of careful planning by Jobs and the rest of Apple management. I normally don't pay much attention to Apple's stock price or market cap. I don't own any Apple shares, and my knowledge of Wall Street and finance is limited. But I do appreciate high quality products made by Apple, and I believe that the good news on the business side of the company reflects that the company also has some really smart people on the product development side of the company who have great things in store for Apple customers in the future. Congratulations to everyone at Apple.
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