Apple May Lose Biggest Company Title To Google Parent Alphabet

Apple first captured the title of the world's largest company when its market capitalization exceeded that of Exxon Mobil in 2011. But now, the iPhone maker is poised to see its title ripped away by another tech titan -- Google's parent company Alphabet.

Dawn Kawamoto, Associate Editor, Dark Reading

February 1, 2016

3 Min Read
<p align="left">(Image: Jason Doiy/iStockphoto)</p>

10 Google Milestones: From Stanford Dorm To Alphabet

10 Google Milestones: From Stanford Dorm To Alphabet

10 Google Milestones: From Stanford Dorm To Alphabet (Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Apple squeaked by another day Friday to retain its title as the world's largest company, based on market cap, but that title may soon give way as early as the market's close on Monday. Google parent company Alphabet might be named the new successor.

When the markets closed Friday, Apple finished the day with a market cap of $523.9 billion and Alphabet $509.6 billion.

For Apple, which claimed its No. 1 spot from Exxon Mobil in 2011, the market cap wonder is currently a far cry from the kudos and expectations that were bestowed on the company last year. In March, Wall Street analysts were predicting the iconic device and computer maker would hit a nose-bleeder market cap of $1 trillion, given it was already hovering in the $700 billion range, according to Bloomberg.

But concerns over declining iPhone sales have been pushing Apple's share price lower since its 52-week high of $134.54 on April 28. Apple is now trading near its 52-week lows and closed at $97.34 a share on Friday.

Meanwhile, Alphabet's shares have been on the rise since July, getting an additional boost in October after announcing a $5.1 billion stock buyback that investors appreciated. Alphabet closed at $742.95 (GOOG) a share on Friday, within the upper reaches of its 52-week high.

But Alphabet is scheduled to report its fourth quarter earnings Monday after the markets close, and its results may be enough to push its market cap above Apple's. Part of the reason Alphabet may get a boost is that it will be breaking out its financial performance for its core operations for the first time since it transferred its non-core businesses into Google.

Alphabet is expected to post earnings of $8.10 per share on revenue of $20.8 billion, compared to net income of $6.88 per share on revenue of $18.1 billion a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters analysts estimates in a SilconBeat report.

With Alphabet on the cusp of potentially overtaking Apple as the world's largest company, what would the Internet giant score beyond bragging rights?

For starters, investors appreciate large cap companies because there are perceived to be more stable and less volatile in the markets. When you're the largest fish in the pond, the likelihood another might come and gobble you up as in an acquisition is slim to none.

[Read Google Secrets Revealed: Paid Apple $1B, Android Raked in $31B.]

But the top spot also has some downside for companies. For starters, it puts "a target on their back," notes Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. As Apple knows, market and industry observers watch and wait for the No. 1 to be usurped by another.

Then there's the issue of analysts expecting Alphabet not only to continue its growth, but also increase the rate, Silverblatt said.

Then there's Big Brother. "Eventually," Silverblatt said, "the attention of someone in Washington or the state capital (comes into play)."

But Alphabet doesn't need to be the world's largest company to tangle with regulators. It's already had its share.

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About the Author(s)

Dawn Kawamoto

Associate Editor, Dark Reading

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's,, AOL's DailyFinance, and The Motley Fool. More recently, she served as associate editor for technology careers site

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