Apple v. ExxonMobil: The Battle of Industry Titans Narrows a Little

By Chris Mooney | July 20, 2011 12:11 pm

Apple (AAPL) smashed earnings forecasts late yesterday, and as a result shares are trading at the highest point ever, currently around $ 387 per share. With less than a billion shares out there this translates into a market capitalization of about $ 357 billion.

The currently most valuable publicly traded company, ExxonMobil (XOM), today trades at around $ 83 and its market capitalization is just under $ 415 billion.

I have said many times that if Apple passes ExxonMobil, it will be a hugely symbolic moment, not just for the markets but for our politics.

The Republicans have long been the party of corporate America–with major stalwarts like the oil majors on their side, an industry centered in very conservative Texas. However, that’s not so true any more: What pro-industry or pro-market party would play chicken with the financial markets, as Republicans have done with the debt ceiling?

And indeed, major companies are shifting to the Democratic camp: Witness clean energy giant GE, for instance, or the fairly blue and liberal California-centered tech industry–epitomized by Apple.

Barring a major downward move in oil prices, or continuing total dominance of the world by Apple, we still aren’t that close to its surpassing of Exxon in value. But we’re closer. Will it happen some day? I suspect so….


Comments (8)

  1. Mike H

    And indeed, major companies are shifting to the Democratic camp: Witness clean energy giant GE, for instance, or the fairly blue and liberal California-centered tech industry–epitomized by Apple

    Doth mine eyes decieve me? Are you celebrating the triumph of regulatory capture and business government collusion from the like of GE? In all fairness, I guess its “OK” now that they are supporting democrats.

  2. Tosh on major corporations becoming “Democratic,” Chris. It’s because Dems are becoming more corporatist/neoliberal all the time. Otherwise, Mike says things I would say.

    And, clean energy giant GE that outsources jobs, lays off employees, etc.?

    “Liberal” Silicon Valley is HUGELY antiunion, too.

    Really, Chris, you need to do some more reading. The Nation’s had good articles in the past on union-busting in Silicon Valley.

  3. TTT

    The computing companies only *seem* Dem-friendly because their work creates real social value, as opposed to the Wall Street mythmakers and sociopaths betting with other peoples’ retirements, bankruptcies, and deaths, and using all of their considerable political influence solely to lower their own taxes. But when not judged by such an unfair comparison, yeah, Silicon Valley ain’t particularly “liberal.”

  4. Apple is liberal?

    Apple does a great job of hiring manufacturers (foxconn) whose workers kill themselves, work 18 hour days with improper toxic waste disposal facilities, and pay the employees just enough so that they can afford to live in factory-owned housing. Wait, I forgot that apple didn’t fire foxconn and instead fired a company that forged payroll documents instead….interesting morals there. If apple is liberal I’d hate to see how conservative manufacturers treat their employees. It must be full-blown slavery.

  5. Brian Too

    While it’s a nice thought, I suspect that Apple passing ExxonMobile in market cap will be a minor event. Also, the self-interest of corporations always pushes them towards the amoral polarity, at least over the long term. Either that or they remain small and uninfluential.

  6. vrk

    It is really confusing to see Apple being praised in the context of environmental or social justice issues. Comment #4 is spot-on, and I would also like to add that Apple has succeeded in creating a cult of followers who will buy any new gadget the company makes. Most iPhone owners will buy the next iPhone, regardless of whether they need it or not — where do the old phones go? Dumped in poor countries most likely. And not to forget:

  7. Don

    Hey Chris: Where is Google in the race?


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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