Apple tops Exxon Mobil to become most valuable U.S. company

Analysts see no end in sight for company’s meteoric rise

Amid all the doom and gloom of this week's stock-market fall comes word of a remarkable ascension: Apple today became the nation's most valuable company ... at least for a time.

From a Reuters story:

Apple Inc briefly edged past oil major Exxon Mobil to become the most valuable company in the United States after days of volatile stock market action.

The market value of Apple rose on Tuesday to $341.5 billion, just above Exxon's at $341.4 billion, even as the oil major rakes in more than four times Apple's annual revenue.

That development set off another round of speculation as to whether Apple will be the first trillion-dollar company. From a Reuters blog:

To get at this dissonance another way, consider Apple's PEG ratio. This hints at the price of growth by dividing a company's PE ratio by its projected percentage earnings growth. A smaller figure suggests a company is cheaper. Apple's is 0.2. That's low compared to growth darlings. Burrito purveyor Chipotle Mexican Grill, for instance, comes in at 2.1, and at 13.2. Pandora and LinkedIn aren't even expected to make money.

Alternatively, put Apple on the same PE multiple it traded on in 2006, and it would be worth almost $900 billion. A premium for today's faster growth could get it to $1 trillion. Apple can't be so cheap just because Steve Jobs is in precarious health.

Apple's still cheap? What a concept.

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