Oil Giant Saudi Aramco Is Now The World’s Most Valuable Company, Bumping Apple From The Top Spot

Published: May 13, 2022
Updated: May 13, 2022
Saudi Aramco
Saudi Aramco

The Saudi Arabian oil firm Aramco is now the most valuable corporation in the world.

As soaring commodities prices inflate profits at energy corporations while technology stocks continue to fall, Apple has lost its title as the world’s most valuable business to Saudi Aramco.

In a hint that the old economy is regaining ground on the new this year,Saudi Aramco outperformed Apple on Wednesday night, despite Wall Street’s protracted bear market.

The stock of Apple, which had become the world’s first $3 trillion business in early January, fell another 5% on Wednesday, bringing its worth to $2.37 trillion (£1.94 trillion) — an 18% loss this year.

This pushed Apple’s valuation below that of Saudi Aramco, whose market capitalization has risen by a quarter this year to $2.43 trillion, fueled by the rise in oil prices since the Ukraine conflict began.

Aramco’s climb comes a decade after Apple beat another oil giant, ExxonMobil, to become the world’s most valuable publicly traded business in 2011. 

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Since then, Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and Amazon have dominated stock markets, reaching and then surpassing $1 trillion values and edging away oil giants.

Only Saudi Aramco has consistently ranked among the most valued companies.

Markets.com’s Neil Wilson said there was “something significant in tech being overtaken by oil,” and that equities were being pushed lower by “this steamroller of a bear market.”

Both companies have previously traded the top rank. When Saudi Aramco went public on Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock exchange in December 2019, it became the world’s largest listed business. 

It would have been greater than Exxon if it had gone public a decade before. As the pandemic stimulated demand for digital products and services, Apple climbed back to beat Saudi Aramco in July 2020.

The consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, increasing prices, and the current Covid-19 lockdowns in China are all causing economic turmoil, as evidenced by this latest change of the guard.

“Apple delivered better-than-expected results in the March 2022 quarter,” said Parth Vala, a GlobalData analyst. “However, the company expects the June quarter to take a revenue hit between $4 billion and $8 billion due to increased supply chain limitations as a result of quickly shifting global geopolitical events, silicon shortages, and harsh lockdowns in China.”

Aramco, on the other hand, is experiencing record revenues and profits after more than doubling its profits last year. It is likely to disclose that net income nearly doubled to around $38 billion in the January-March period in its first-quarter earnings, which are due on Sunday.

“The Russia-Ukraine conflict has pushed global energy prices surging, resulting in significant top-line and bottom-line gains for energy corporations,” Vala noted.

Because the majority of Aramco’s oil is in easy-to-tap fields onshore or in shallow waters, it has a notably cheap cost of production. This improves the company’s profitability, which is still 95 percent owned by the Saudi government.

Saudi Aramco

Apple and Aramco are not comparable in terms of businesses or fundamentals, according to James Meyer, chief investment officer at Tower Bridge Advisors, though the latter has certainly profited from the tighter commodity market. “Inflation and constrained supply have benefited them,” Meyer explained.

The invasion of Ukraine pushed oil prices to 13-year highs of almost $130 per barrel. Brent crude is still trading at $105 a barrel today, up from $77 at the start of the year, despite the price decline.

Consumers will have less money to spend on non-essential items such as electronics as energy and food prices rise this year. Larger interest rates have weighed on the value of “growth stocks,” such as technology firms, which promise higher returns in the future.

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After America’s central bank reasserted its commitment to reduce inflation from its 40-year high, the value of major US tech equities has been wiped off by more than $1 trillion in the previous week.

The Nasdaq Composite Index has lost 27% this year and 20% since the beginning of April, while Vanguard’s Energy Index Fund has increased by 34% in 2022.

The previous Covid darlings have seen their stock prices plummet, with Netflix down 72 percent this year and Peloton down 65 percent.

In the United Kingdom, shares in online food retailer Ocado have more than halved this year. Ocado’s valuation has slipped to just above the second-biggest grocer Sainsbury’s, after being valued more than Tesco, the UK’s largest grocery chain, in September 2020.

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