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Which Company Is the Largest?

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the it-isn't-robin's-merry-men dept.

Businesses 378

Fudge Factor 3000 writes "Apple and Exxon are fighting it out to be the company with the largest market cap. Tuesday, Apple pulled ahead. It is hard to believe a tech company can beat out an oil giant, but is the market cap really the measure of the size/influence of a company? It is certainly the simplest metric to consider. Ars is running an excellent article on how to measure the size of a company. They discuss different metrics such as cash balance, revenue, number of employees, etc."

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You can save a lot (0)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 3 years ago | (#37087042)

by outsourcing all your labor to the 3rd world, and not having to pay people a living wage in a western country.

pay people a living wage in a western country (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087152)

People gotta live outside the west too.

Re:pay people a living wage in a western country (0)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 3 years ago | (#37087166)

At least until too many of them commit suicide and have to be replaced by robots, right?

Re:pay people a living wage in a western country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087300)

When they have a much, much higher standard of living than all the other people in the area (and many people I know in the US), and a couple still commit suicide every year, you have to wonder if it's the foxconn jobs/campus that's making them do it.

But I guess it's more dramatic to say, "Apple murders its employees to make you your iphone, you awful, ignorant, insensitive westerner."

Re:pay people a living wage in a western country (2)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 3 years ago | (#37087900)

Statistically speaking, suicide rates among foxconn employees are MUCH lower than the suicide rates in the rest of the Chinese population. 4.9 per 100k at foxconn vs 20.9 per 100k in china as a whole. Source: http://www.peopleforum.cn/viewthread.php?tid=20629 [peopleforum.cn]

Re:pay people a living wage in a western country (2)

gmon750 (1216394) | about 3 years ago | (#37087484)

Of course. Let's all make a statement by refusing to purchase any products from the following companies (from Wikipedia) since AC's tend to conveniently ignore them while making it sound it's only Apple:

Acer, Amazon, Intel, Cisco, HP, Nintendo, Nokia, Microsoft, Sony, Vizio

Let's see how long your crusade lasts!

Re:pay people a living wage in a western country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087682)

The only 'difficult' ones are Intel (Can use AMD or ARM though), Microsoft (Can use Linux though but no normal consumer will) and Sony (But alternative products exist in various device markets such as television, music players etc.) so it's really not that hard.

Re:pay people a living wage in a western country (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 3 years ago | (#37088070)

The only of those companies I've ever bought something from are Microsoft (but that was in the last millennium) and Sony (but there are enough other reasons not to buy again from them anyway). OK, for Intel I cannot completely exclude the possibility that some chip inside my computer is from them, but definitively not the processor or graphics.

Re:pay people a living wage in a western country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087230)

True, these companies have only the best interests of their third-world employees at heart, as will become apparent if these countries ever get their shit together and pass worker protection laws, and the corporations run like rats from a ship.

Re:pay people a living wage in a western country (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087254)

These people already have the option of not working. They aren't forced labor camps. If they take a job rather than doing nothing, they clearly prefer that state of affairs to the alternative. Your solution is to take away their preferred choice and force them not to work? You're an idiot.

Re:pay people a living wage in a western country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087558)

Your solution is to take away their preferred choice and force them not to work? You're an idiot.

Maybe he needs his job back? :)

Re:You can save a lot (2)

PNutts (199112) | about 3 years ago | (#37087342)

Yes, that is why most companies do it.

Profit? (0)

MasterOfUniverse (812371) | about 3 years ago | (#37087050)

Very unusual article. They did not mention the most important metric of all. Profit.

Re:Profit? (2)

Arlet (29997) | about 3 years ago | (#37087138)

Yes they did. They just called it cash flow, and explained why this was the best measure of profits.

Re:Profit? (2)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 3 years ago | (#37087386)

Cash flow is not profit. It is a derived measure of revenues, mismatched to costs.

The best measure of profits is the actual net revenue return after expenses invested are subtracted.

Re:Profit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087660)

The best measure of profits is the actual net revenue return after expenses invested are subtracted.

You might want to read the article for their explanation of why they specifically chose not to use your "best measure" of profits. It basically boils down to it being susceptible to accounting tricks which hide, delay or otherwise obfuscate profits to suit the needs of the business. They specifically mention that while cash flow isn't perfect, for the reasons you mentioned, it's closer than any other publicly-available measurement.

Re:Profit? (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 years ago | (#37088030)

He didn't say they are the same, just that they DID in fact mention net profit, and argued in detail how FCF was a better metric (which of course is debatable, but many do agree with that claim).

The real problem with the article is not that claim, though, but the fact that they listed completely wrong free cash flow numbers for some of the companies in their chart. Even thinking Barclays could have $177B of free cash flow in a year is absurd, and makes me question the rest of the author's analysis. That number was their TOTAL cash on hand as of this year. Their free cash flow was closer to $26B. Not bad, but off by 7x. Doh!

Re:Profit? (1)

lurgyman (587233) | about 3 years ago | (#37087150)

Re:Profit? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#37087448)

Interesting that Microsoft is above Apple on that page. I guess the fanbois didn't think that was terribly important...

Re:Profit? (3, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#37087686)

Cash flow isn't the same as profit. And it is somewhat tempered by the comparison that MS has twice the number of employees as Apple. Bear in mind Apple counts their employees slightly differently than MS. Apple has lots of part-time retail employees while MS has far fewer. Apple uses the equivalent employee hours where it counts 40 hours of a part timer as a full time employee. It is not completely 1:1 as full time employees normally receive benefits that part-time ones; however, this may be offset by other overhead in hiring and maintaining a part-time labor force.

Re:Profit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087154)

Profit is a metric of profitability, not size. Think of the late car industry.

Re:Profit? (1)

nomel (244635) | about 3 years ago | (#37087336)

Size is interesting, but stability is too. The oil company doesn't depend on short term technological fads...they're practically selling toilet paper. Sure, you could go without it...but you'll always be spending a fixed portion of your income to make sure you don't! After the sloooow shifts in transportation energy infrastructure change to some other technology, we might see them shrink a bit...but that's not going to happen in any significant way for a while. I highly doubt a jump from 35mpg to 50mpg is enough of a fuel saving to compete with the number of new drivers from China, India, and all of the commercial 8mpg trucks that come with their growth.

Re:Profit? (0)

larry bagina (561269) | about 3 years ago | (#37087446)

Oil companies face a different kind of instability. Middle East, OPEC, Obama, Democrats, BP, EPA, etc.

Not profit (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | about 3 years ago | (#37087912)

I would rather own a firm that has a net worth of $10 billion and zero profit than a firm with a net worth of $0 and, say, fifty million in annual profit.

From the perspective of the owner, the firm's profit is not the only thing that matters. It is one metric among many--albeit it an important one.

Apple Oil and Exxon Computers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087052)

Would Steve Jobs be considered a genius if he was an oil company CEO?

Re:Apple Oil and Exxon Computers (-1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 3 years ago | (#37087370)

If Jobs' oil corp invented the Mac, the iPhone, the iPad, or the NeXT, Pixar, or any of the other revolutionary innovations Jobs has led, then yes: Jobs the oil company CEO would be considered a genius. Even more of a genius than he actually is at running computer companies.

Re:Apple Oil and Exxon Computers (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | about 3 years ago | (#37087698)

If Jobs' oil corp invented the Mac, the iPhone, the iPad, or the NeXT, Pixar, or any of the other revolutionary innovations Jobs has led,

Apple "invented" the desktop computer, the smartphone, the tablet computer, and the workstation?

Re:Apple Oil and Exxon Computers (1)

jjohnson (62583) | about 3 years ago | (#37087946)

Your reading comprehension needs work.

Re:Apple Oil and Exxon Computers (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about 3 years ago | (#37088064)

Basically.

Re:Apple Oil and Exxon Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087866)

Today we unveil... The iOffshore Platform!

Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087080)

How you measure the 'size' of a company depends on WHY you want to measure its size (environmental impact? political clout? market influence? raw spending power?). If it's just to put it in a league table then you might as well use anything that comes to mind - market cap, turnover, hash total of all employee shoe sizes... whatever.

(In terms of measuring success particularly to shareholders, Apple's GROWTH in market cap over a relatively short period of time is extremely impressive but that's another matter)

Evil tech companies with their huge profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087108)

They are making too much money we need to have congress investigate where all these profits are going and what tax loopholes they are using to get these profits.

Just wanted to beat the libs to it.

 

Congrats! (1, Funny)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 3 years ago | (#37087160)

Congrats! You have beaten The Libs, and have won the Douchebag of the Day award!

Re:Evil tech companies with their huge profits (0)

G_REEPER (112154) | about 3 years ago | (#37087170)

Not going to happen since it is ran by libs, hell Jobs is a big lib they are exempt from this, like GE is on taxes...

Re:Evil tech companies with their huge profits (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 3 years ago | (#37087350)

That's right: Liberals are the ones preventing corporations from paying their share of government expenses. Right. And Steve Jobs runs GE - or maybe some other liberal does. Sure. You're totally nuts.

You Republicans fear the boogeyman so badly that you'll call anything that moves "liberal", blurt anything that uses "liberal" as an insult. Sad little Republicans, always the victims even while you're running the country hard into the ground.

Re:Evil tech companies with their huge profits (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 3 years ago | (#37087326)

It's not the "making too much money" part that needs investigation, and really just correction. It's the "not paying taxes" part. Corporations, including rich tech corps, don't pay the costs the public pays for them to operate. In 2010, corporations paid only $176B in taxes [fool.com] ; individuals paid over 100x that much. Corporations cost the public far more than 1% of our 2010 expenses. The $TRILLIONS spent by the public bailing them out of their failures, and of the failures of other corps they depend upon, is the bulk of our financial problems.

That they don't pay what they cost is the problem. That only about 50% of voters, the "liberals", even realize that's the problem is what keeps the problem getting worse. It's you Republicans who are to blame, which is why you're corporations' favorite suckers.

Re:Evil tech companies with their huge profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087908)

A bit simplistic, right? If corps paid more taxes, more would move overseas taking jobs away. As jobs go away, those of us continuing to work must pay even more in taxes to keep the country running. Not to mention the out of work people who now have to steal to feed their family. Yes, I overplayed that argument on purpose. But, just stop to think about the entire flow of a proposal. It isn't feasible to just make one change (corps pay more taxes) without analyzing the impact to everything else. Any solid proposal needs to have a lot of thought and a lot of real economic brain power behind it. Not just some random dude's posting on a web site (mine included as I am certainly no economic giant).

Re:Evil tech companies with their huge profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37088062)

I know its a stretch but steal to feed their families?? those unemployed people get food stamps that feed their families they steal to get money for the luxuries of life aka crack.

Who cares? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087172)

Does it really matter? Honestly, who gives a shit what company is the biggest?

I only care about the products/services they produce.

Michael Dell thinks Apple should liquidate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087234)

and distribute the proceeds to shareholders.

That'd be a lot of proceeds! BTW Dell now sells smartphones and tablets, too.

only gadgets (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087236)

what is the future of a civilisation whose most capitalised stock is gadget manufacturer?

Re:only gadgets (2)

am 2k (217885) | about 3 years ago | (#37087486)

I prefer that to a company whose business is making the planet inevitably inhabitable.

Re:only gadgets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087792)

Typed on a computer made of plastic (petroleum product).
Sitting in a chair and at a desk undoubtedly with petroleum products involved in construction, even if only for transportation.
etc etc etc

Idiot.

Re:only gadgets (2)

neo8750 (566137) | about 3 years ago | (#37088068)

My chair is made of wood you insensitive clod!

Re:only gadgets (2)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 3 years ago | (#37088026)

I prefer that to a company whose business is making the planet inevitably inhabitable.

Your modern lifestyle and that of almost every other person currently living on this planet is made possible by relatively cheap access to hydrocarbons. If nothing else, remember this:

1. Be careful what you wish for, lest you actually receive it.

2. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Re:only gadgets (1)

bazorg (911295) | about 3 years ago | (#37087502)

A future where more people have more time dedicated to the top parts of Maslow's pyramid rather than the bottom sections.

Re:only gadgets (2, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | about 3 years ago | (#37087596)

what is the future of a civilisation whose most capitalised stock is gadget manufacturer?

They're not a gadget manufacturer (though they are also that). They are mostly an entertainment company. Just like the good old days of RCA, when they ran broadcasts, and sold televisions too ... to make sure that people could get their broadcasts.

It's not at all surprising that a company that makes money delivering entertainment, services, and other IP-ish stuff (iTunes, the App Store, etc) is huge. Because the US has a huge hunger for that sort of stuff. And that stuff is hugely more marked up than are distilled oil products, for which the profits are very slim.

Re:only gadgets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37088006)

That should be, to be correctly gadget manufacture that depends on fossil fuels, on oil and coal at every step, for the product of plastics, the smelting of the metals from ores, the molding of the plastics, the manufacture of circuit-boards and their components, the resins of the boards, the copper film on them, the solder, its smelting and melting, the insulating varnish coating, the manufacturing of the chips and so on. There is even the heating and cooling of offices where engineers design next generation improvements and the next gadget that the industry hopes may become made a "must own" item, to impel the next fad-wave dependent boom.

So Now Evil Big Business is Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37088048)

I'm not surprised - Steve Jobs has the personality of Charlie Manson.

But I thought... (1, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about 3 years ago | (#37087238)

...Apple was dying...

I've heard that for the last 20 years from dozens of tech magazines and from numerous Slashdotters...

Re:But I thought... (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 3 years ago | (#37087298)

I think you mean ten years ago not 'the last twenty years'.

Re:But I thought... (1)

lag10 (667114) | about 3 years ago | (#37087384)

I think you mean ten years ago not 'the last twenty years'.

No, people were predicting Apple's demise way back around 1991.

Just look at this one earnings story for a reference of what sparked that round of speculation:
http://www.faqs.org/abstracts/News-opinion-and-commentary/Digital-net-up-as-Apple-posts-decline-Profits-off-by-28-at-Digital.html [faqs.org]

Re:But I thought... (2)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 3 years ago | (#37087772)

Way to have reading comprehension. Yes long ago people predicted apples failure most people have but that was ten years ago, no one has certainly done it with in the last few years.

Re:But I thought... (1)

ultramk (470198) | about 3 years ago | (#37087382)

20 years? I've personally been hearing it since the IBM PC was introduced, and that was '81... so 30 years?

Re:But I thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087710)

...Apple was dying...

Companies, like people, are all dying. You just have to give them time.

Re:But I thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087926)

more true than ever, Its all downhill from here :D

IF I SELL 1000 SHARES TODAY AT $1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087246)

And those $1 shares go up to $100 tomorrow, MY (company's) capital from sale of stock is STILL $1000. Those who OWN the shares are those who reap the gains. Now, if I go into my MSFT-like back office and print out 1000 MORE shares and sell them, now I am rolling in the dough.

Always look at shares outstanding before and after. See who has what, and when. Then, Go roll another one, just liiike ... theee other one.

Re:IF I SELL 1000 SHARES TODAY AT $1 (1)

houghi (78078) | about 3 years ago | (#37087380)

You are doing it wrong. If you have 1001 shares, you must sell 1 for 1.000USD and your company is suddenly worth 1.000.000USD
Now you sell the whole company for 800.000.This means you won 800.000 and the person who bought it made 200.000.

Re:IF I SELL 1000 SHARES TODAY AT $1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087498)

You are a greek imbecile. Capital is $1000. If I sell the company to yuu for a million, that only means you believe it's worth that. Obviously, the capital is still only $1000. I, who have now sold a company with $1000 of capital to a greek-imbecile, is who made the gain. This has nothing at all to do with the price of a share. You now need to find another europa-imbecile to ever hope to get anything back. See Murdoch for more leasons, italian-imbecile.

The Market Is a Lie (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 3 years ago | (#37087248)

It is hard to believe a tech company can beat out an oil giant, but is the market cap really the measure of the size/influence of a company?

Of course it isn't. If it were, then the gyrations of the DJIA would mean that the total size of the representative corporations in the stock market have grown and shrunk across a 10% margin over the past couple of weeks. Those companies, and by extension the rest of publicly traded corps, and indeed business in general, have clearly not been growing and shrinking that much in any size except solely their market cap. The market cap is undeniably a contrived measure that is primarily an artifact of nothing but finance. Which in the past generation has become almost completely independent of underlying business, and even independent of any underlying reality except preferential treatment by the powerful.

Re:The Market Is a Lie (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 3 years ago | (#37087424)

Market cap is not an indication of size at all. It's an indication of, well, present market value.

For size, there are few things you can look at it: there is size based on net worth, total number of employees, total sales in dollars, total unit sales, etc. Most of these are only useful when comparing to companies within the same industry, however. In fact, most useful statistics are really only useful when comparing companies within the same industry. That's why so many people focus on market capitalization, because that is comparable across industries.

Biggest market cap, though, as you point out, doesn't mean that much. A more useful statistic for investors is the earning per share (EPS), which gives you an idea of the economic viability of a company .

The Roman Catholic Church (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087258)

This company makes Apple, Google, MS et al look silly.

Re:The Roman Catholic Church (1)

rve (4436) | about 3 years ago | (#37087934)

This company makes Apple, Google, MS et al look silly.

Hmm, after a bit of googling, I have the impression that the Roman Catholic Church isn't all that wealthy. According to the stats in this it's comparable in wealth / turnover to a major sports team. (By the way, major sports teams are another example of entities that everyone assumes to be a lot bigger and more powerful than they really are.)

Maybe a lot of money could be made in some sort of execution sale, by selling off art work, churches and that lovely piece of real estate in the center of Rome, but then there's the question who is the owner of these things? It's not the pope or the Vatican. It's me, and a billion other people. No one has the authority to just close up shop and sell everything off. The Sistine Chapel is free for anyone to view. They're not charging admission, nor are cathedrals. All it will cost you is your time; the line can be very long.

Carrying value (4, Insightful)

SnowDog74 (745848) | about 3 years ago | (#37087274)

Market cap is a completely nonsensical way of saying "what's the largest company". Market cap is simply whatever irrational price the market has placed upon a company, and has zilch to do with its actual value as a cash generating engine.

For that, one has to look at book value or intrinsic value, as defined by Graham, Dodd, Buffett and others in the value investing fold. Book value (or carrying value) is simply assets minus liabilities minus intangibles (e.g. goodwill, the paid in capital during acquisition of other companies in excess of their book value). Intrinsic value, more or less, includes the net present value of discounted cash flows looking probably five or six quarters forward (any more than that is pure speculation as companies tend not to forecast out more than a year or two from the known inputs into their business).

A third way of looking at it is net working capital plus net operating cash flows... paring it down to inventories on the balance sheet side (working capital) and cash flows related directly to the sale of their goods/services, and not via financing activities, acquisition, etc. This is a really strong measure of how powerful a business is. By almost all of these measures, Apple is pretty strong, but their market capitalization seems to have them overvalued several times relative to what their future cash generating ability truly is.... which is why you won't see any offers for acquisition any time soon, not that Apple would entertain any of them anyway.

Re:Carrying value (1)

sessamoid (165542) | about 3 years ago | (#37087616)

No, the biggest reason nobody has offered to buy Apple is because no single entity has the nearly half a trillion US dollars just lying around that it would take to buy them.

How about volatility (4, Interesting)

dimeglio (456244) | about 3 years ago | (#37087308)

Although Apple is on top at the moment, they have a very volatile stock. This tend to discourage long-term investments generally accounts for less than 15% of a well balanced portfolio. Microsoft and also Exxon on the other hand have a stable stock price and they both tend to play it generally safe. It might not please stock holders who were looking to make money quickly but perhaps is how a company can achieve more maturity.

So yeah, they are big now but they might be tiny in a few months.

Re:How about volatility (2)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about 3 years ago | (#37087450)

Exxon and I believe Microsoft pays a dividend to its shareholders, unlike Apple.

Re:How about volatility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087756)

Microsoft didn't pay when their stock was growing.

Re:How about volatility (3, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 3 years ago | (#37087746)

What do you mean about volatility? Aside from Steve Jobs announcing his first medical leave to get a liver transplant in January 2008 and the economic recession hitting later that year, there haven't been any major drops in Apple's stock price. With the exception of the two cases I mentioned, you could have bought Apple stock at any point in the last five years, sold it a year later, and come out well ahead (and in those two cases, holding it for two years would have meant a major profit). It hasn't been a monotonic increase, but it's certainly on an upward trend at the moment, so even if there are fluctuations on a day-to-day basis, holding onto it for even a month or two is almost always enough to see a return on your investment.

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=AAPL&t=5y&l=off&z=l&q=l&c= [yahoo.com]

Re:How about volatility (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#37087760)

Well MS and Exxon has more stable stock prices; however, MS stock has been stagnant the last decade whereas Exxon has grown slightly. That's probably the major complaint of MS shareholders; they don't expect the stock to double or triple in value but some growth would have been nice.

Your mom (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087348)

(oblig)

Battling it out? Really? (2)

kmdrtako (1971832) | about 3 years ago | (#37087404)

Is that SJ and Tillerson duking it out, mano a mano?

Are they launching missiles at each other's corporate HQs?

No, I didn't think so. They're just minding their businesses and the stock market is setting a price on their shares. Hardly what I'd call battling it out. Strange metaphor.

effect on the world is a company disappeared (5, Interesting)

art123 (309756) | about 3 years ago | (#37087434)

Here is another way to think about it.

What if the company disappeared over night? How "important" are these companies?

If Apple disappeared, people wouldn't have their toys and music anymore and people who actually get work done with Apple products (like designers or movie editors) would have to migrate to other platforms like Linux or Windows.

If Exxon disappeared, the world would have a temporarily huge reduction in the available oil until competitors could pick up the slack which could take a long time in which case the whole world will fall apart (only slightly exaggerating).

So I say that Exxon is way more important than Apple.

By that metric, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle are also way more important than Apple.

Re:effect on the world is a company disappeared (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 years ago | (#37087580)

By that metric, Fox TV is more important than all of those companies. Within 45 minutes of it's demise the majority of the American population would start to go through a slow, unpleasant and eventually fatal withdrawal.

Re:effect on the world is a company disappeared (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087650)

It's not the majority, but---

The world would be a better place, one) Faux TV would be gone, and two) all that hate would be gone.

Re:effect on the world is a company disappeared (3, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | about 3 years ago | (#37087656)

And yet, despite this, it would *still* be for the best... Sad but true.

Simon.

Re:effect on the world is a company disappeared (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 3 years ago | (#37087754)

And nothing of value would be lost...

Don't agree, quite (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 3 years ago | (#37087642)

If Redmond and all its outstantions were nuked from orbit tomorrow, people would rapidly reverse engineer the licensing and continue to use and deploy the products while transitioning to replacements. There would be hardly any downside. IBM itself, on the other hand, along with Oracle and HP, provide massive support operations to critical systems which would fall over.

Visa/Mastercard > Exxon >= {Oracle|IBM|HP} > Microsoft > Apple.

Re:effect on the world is a company disappeared (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 3 years ago | (#37087668)

I don't think so. By your own account Apple is more important than Oracle. What would happen if Oracle were to disappear overnigth? Think it twice. Yeah: absolutly nothing. Running databases still running, new deployed ones by copying from somewhere else's without the BSA minding... At least in the case of Apple I would be unable to buy a new iPhone.

Dec1999 - MS's Market Cap Surpasses 600 Billion (2)

linumax (910946) | about 3 years ago | (#37087456)

With the recent spurt in the stock price, Microsoft's market capitalization has reached nearly $600 billion, putting it back in first place ahead of General Electric's $475 billion market cap. [cnet.com]

Tech stocks are a bit more volatile than that of oil companies. Back then, Microsoft looked even better than Apple does today, virtually unstoppable.

Re:Dec1999 - MS's Market Cap Surpasses 600 Billion (1)

kmdrtako (1971832) | about 3 years ago | (#37087702)

Translation: Apple's won't be at the top forever, any more than Microsoft's was.

Everyone wants to know what happens when SJ leaves. I suspect a lot of people will be shorting AAPL big time when he does.

And I don't wish for it, but there's no denying that SJ's health issues are in the forefront of everyone's thoughts.

Re:Dec1999 - MS's Market Cap Surpasses 600 Billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087828)

and from the century before

        * American Cotton Oil Company, a predecessor company to Bestfoods, now part of Unilever.
        * American Sugar Company, became Domino Sugar in 1900, now Domino Foods, Inc.
        * American Tobacco Company, broken up in a 1911 antitrust action.
        * Chicago Gas Company, bought by Peoples Gas Light in 1897, now an operating subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group.
        * Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company, now Millennium Chemicals, formerly a division of LyondellBasell, the latter of which is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
        * Laclede Gas Company, still in operation as the Laclede Group, Inc., removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1899.
        * National Lead Company, now NL Industries, removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1916.
        * North American Company, an electric utility holding company, broken up by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1946.
        * Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in Birmingham, Alabama, bought by U.S. Steel in 1907; U.S. Steel was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1991.
        * U.S. Leather Company, dissolved in 1952.
        * United States Rubber Company, changed its name to Uniroyal in 1961, merged with private B.F. Goodrich in 1986, bought by Michelin in 1990.

The US government is the largest company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087462)

With guaranteed yearly revenues from over 300,000,000 paying customers and gracious lubricatory contributions from thousands of companies... Apple's and Exxon's customers and lubes don't stand a chance against that!

How Many Times To Run This Story? (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 3 years ago | (#37087488)

C'mon, this is a repackaged duplication. http://apple.slashdot.org/story/11/08/10/1928206/Wall-Street-Software-More-Valuable-Than-Oil [slashdot.org]

And THAT one was really not adding much to this. http://slashdot.org/index2.pl?fhfilter=apple+exxon [slashdot.org] Slashdot, make another pot of coffee.

Funny-money and pixie dust (2)

RichPowers (998637) | about 3 years ago | (#37087490)

This sentence from the last page sums it up nicely:

Most pundits would say that Exxon is the larger company by far in every comparison that matters, particularly when you're thinking about who does or does not drive the American economy.

I would go a step further and say that fossil fuel extraction is the most important sector of the economy, at least from the perspective of what makes industrial civilization possible and allows human beings to number over 7 billion. After all, the last few centuries of technological progress and human biomass growth can largely be attributed to how we've creatively employed the vast armies of energy slaves liberated by the combustion of fossil fuels to do things like power generators, run combines and tractors, and make plastics and fertilizers. And human biomass proliferated in the 20th century largely due to our ability to convert stocks of low entropy stored solar energy into edible calories and fertilizers. The energy sector (which is dominated by fossil fuels) subsidizes other service and production sectors and makes our highly complex society possible (1).

So Apple or some bank may be largest or "most important" based on some metric employing fiat currency (that's being inflated away by the Federal Reserve) or the Wall Street casino's latest valuation based on pixie dust, but energy (or more precisely, exergy) is what really matters for civilization; everything else is just playing with your food.

(1) Joseph Tainter, "Complexity, Problem Solving, and Complex Societies."
http://www.oilcrash.com/articles/complex.htm [oilcrash.com]

See also:

Ayres and Warr, "Accounting for Growth: The Role of Physical Work."
http://www.fraw.org.uk/files/economics/ayres_2005.pdf [fraw.org.uk]

Re:Funny-money and pixie dust (1)

mortonda (5175) | about 3 years ago | (#37087576)

I would go a step further and say that fossil fuel extraction is the most important sector of the economy,

If Apple just stopped existing, would it hurt Exxon? Probably not. If Exxon suddenly stopped, would Apple notice? Most certainly...

Love him or hate him... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087494)

Jobs is a marketing genius. Who else could take a $50 product and get $500 for it? Now, you may say that his products are great (I don't agree but that's me) but they still aren't worth nearly the price he's getting for them.

Re:Love him or hate him... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 3 years ago | (#37087594)

Out of interest, which $50 product are Apple selling for $500?

Or, to be more general, which product are they selling at 10 times the market price, assuming you were using 50/500 as an example?

Its an example of people spending too much (1)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 3 years ago | (#37087510)

For computers and for a share of stock. When Steve finally moves on (one way or the other), the company will go the same route it did the last time he left. He's an example of a driven visionary that jumps right through all the middle management to directly manipulate products, services and the marketing messages. How often does your CEO drop into your product meetings to tell you how to make it work or what not to do?

Oh yeah, and stress causes cancer.

In other news I completely frustrated several of my Apple buying friends by taking a 4 year old 17" laptop and spending 2 hours hackintoshing it. Its as good or better than the $2000-3000 apple laptops they've bought recently. When they said "Well, but thats not the same" I challenged them to tell me what was deficient about it or what the extra money bought them. They couldnt come up with a thing. In fact, my laptop runs faster in benchmarks than similar apple laptops, because it has a faster disk drive and ram than Apple put in them. It also runs cooler because the fan runs more than the fan does in the macbook.

The message here is that when you have a huge cost/profit built into a product that appear to be based entirely on perception, when the chief influencer of that perception goes away...so does the profit.

Unless of course you can find another really smart, really driven leader willing to kill himself stomping around Apple trying to out-do what Steve Jobs did. Good luck with that.

Re:Its an example of people spending too much (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#37087774)

When they said "Well, but thats not the same" I challenged them to tell me what was deficient about it or what the extra money bought them. They couldnt come up with a thing.

Why don't you challenge us? I'm sure someone here can tell you.

Keep the masses entertained. (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 3 years ago | (#37087518)

So yah a tech company making shiny things for the masses will be on top till the masses revolt.

Taxes (1)

sir_eccles (1235902) | about 3 years ago | (#37087626)

Okay then, which one pays/evades/avoids the most corporate taxes?

Re:Taxes (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 3 years ago | (#37088014)

That would be General Electric [msn.com] .

it's not about size, it's about (future) profit (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 years ago | (#37087670)

The important thing is the profits, not how 'big' they are. If you doubt it, imagine if the country of Congo were a company. Clearly Congo would be bigger than any company in the world (what company has land holdings the size of Congo?), but they would be making $11 billion a year (GDP). Not really good.

The fundamental reason for a stock having a particular price is the profit (or, future profit.....no one wants to hold stock in a company that makes less each year).

There is no doubt that Exxon is bigger, look at its revenue! [google.com] (370billion vs 65 billion for Apple [google.com] ). But it doesn't matter which is bigger, it matters which will be making more profit. Their current profit is a lot closer, with 30 billion for Exxon and 14 billion for Apple, and on current trend, Apple will close that distance within three years.

Re:it's not about size, it's about (future) profit (1)

Arlet (29997) | about 3 years ago | (#37087808)

Their current profit is a lot closer, with 30 billion for Exxon and 14 billion for Apple, and on current trend, Apple will close that distance within three years.

Or not. Technology trends can be fickle. There comes a point in time where everybody already has a phone, a music player and a tablet computer. Especially when the economy goes south, spending a few hundred buck to upgrade a perfectly fine black phone with a white version may not be as appealing anymore. On the other hand, energy is a pretty basic need.

Re:it's not about size, it's about (future) profit (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 years ago | (#37087848)

It's impossible to predict the future, right? If the economy goes south, demand for oil will drop as well, and Exxon will make less profit. Lots of things can happen.

But Apple's been pretty consistently improving its profit, which obviously can't go on forever, but do you have a reason to believe it will stop now, instead of in three, or five, or ten years?

Re:it's not about size, it's about (future) profit (1)

Arlet (29997) | about 3 years ago | (#37087960)

No particular reason, but look at Cisco. In 2000, their stock price was more than 3x times what it is now, and people thought it was justified because their earnings would grow rapidly.

Re:it's not about size, it's about (future) profit (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 years ago | (#37088020)

Yep, but saying, "some other company was big and didn't get bigger, thus company B will do the same" is poor analysis. You need to find some other determiner, because sometimes it will be true, sometimes it won't.

The USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37087676)

It's the largest entity run by corporations.

A couple complaints: (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 3 years ago | (#37087996)

First of all, would it have killed them to update their fucking metrics? Hello? Does anybody in journalism do anything other than repeat old articles anymore? This is ridiculous.

Second of all, this:

Sending Microsoft or Google into bankruptcy might disrupt your personal life in a more direct way than losing Goldman Sachs or Barclays, but technology treats systemic damage as a fault and routes around it. Someone else would quickly step up to fill the gap, and our children would think of Microsoft Office or Google Search as boring history lessons. But cutting the legs out from under another major bank would reignite the hysteria of 2008, destroying many more jobs in the process.

is bullshit. The banks have all the money because they designed our financial system that way! They are important on paper because they are the ones writing the papers. But is what they do really that complicated? or difficult? or important? That's a different question entirely. Our society is run by mindless penny-penching bureaucrats, but they're not the ones doing the work, keeping the lights on, and inventing new things. And after looking at all the shenanigans they've pulled over the last decade, it's hard for me to believe that we'd really all be worse off if they all went out of business tomorrow.

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