Apple is set to become the world’s most valuable company this year, financial analysts said yesterday.
It is predicted to leapfrog the current number one, oil giant Exxon Mobil, capping a remarkable rise for the gadget firm, which is thriving on sales of Mac computers, iPhones, iPods and now iPads.
Shares in Apple are predicted to rise a staggering 32 per cent over the next 12 months, driving the company’s market value up to £269.5billion.
That is tipped to be sufficient to overhaul Exxon, currently valued at £263billion, even taking into account that its value is also set to increase, with rising oil prices likely to drive up its profits.
The rest of the top ten is dominated by mining and energy heavyweights, along with Apple’s long-time rival Microsoft, now trailing behind a firm it used to beat easily.
Apple reported its best ever quarterly results last month, continuing its relentless rise up the list of the world’s biggest companies.
In the last three months of 2010 alone, it sold 3.89million Macintosh computers, 14.1million iPhones, 9.05million iPod music players and 4.19million iPad tablet computers.
The better-than-expected figures for iPhones – which benefited from an expansion of their U.S. network – and iPads caused many analysts to upgrade their 12-month
predictions for Apple’s share performance.
Although Apple suffered a momentary setback when shares plunged early last month after CEO Steve Jobs said he was taking a medical leave of absence, experts remain bullish over its prospects, saying it has only just begun to exploit the international market.
Analysts are as giddy as you can be, but Apple just keeps surpassing those numbers,’ said Pete Najarian, co-founder of stock market website TradeMonster.com.
Although it has long cultivated a unique reputation with a loyal customer base devoted to the ‘cool’, quirky brand and aesthetically pleasing design, it is only in recent years that Apple has transformed into a sales juggernaut.
Founded in California in 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, it grew in the shadow of Microsoft and was given up for dead a decade ago but surpassed the PC giant last May to become the world’s most valuable technology company.
Its rise is likely to be boosted with a thinner, lighter and souped-up version of its iPad tablet computer that is reportedly already in production.
Some experts expect the company to sell as many as 35million iPads this year, more than doubling last year’s 14.8million sales.
However, Apple’s latest success comes just months after it was accused of exploiting workers, with a spate of suicides among workers at manufacturing plants in China.
Fourteen workers at the Foxconn Technology Group factories, which make iPhones and iPads for Apple, killed themselves last year amid complaints of ill-treatment, causing Apple to launch an investigation.
Copyright 2011 by Daily Mail