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Apple loses market-cap crown to Exxon Mobil

A man walks in front of a company logo outside an Apple store in downtown Shanghai January 24, 2013.

Aly Song/Reuters

Exxon Mobil Corp. has reclaimed its place as the largest U.S. publicly traded company by market value one year after losing it to Apple Inc., as shares of the technology giant extended their recent fall on Friday.

Apple's market capitalization has fallen by about $250-billion (U.S.) – roughly the total market value of Google Inc. – since hitting a high last September, when the stock traded above $700.

Apple shares traded as low as $435 before closing down 2.4 per cent on Friday at $439.88, for a market value of roughly $413-billion. Exxon shares, up 0.4 per cent on the day to $91.73, added to a market value of about $418.2-billion.

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Apple "was clearly a momentum stock. Whenever the numbers behind momentum stocks stop, the momentum players are out and the stock tumbles," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst, Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

There was heavy volume in Apple shares as they hit the session low shortly before the closing bell. The stock dropped by as much as $7, to $435 from $442, within the span of 1 second during the last minute of trading.

More than 50 orders were executed on NYSE Arca at $435 a share, according to Thomson Reuters time-and-sales data, in blocks as small as 100 shares and as large as 10,494 shares.

No other exchange executed orders at a price lower than $438 a share prior to the day's close. After those trades went through, the stock resumed its earlier levels around $442 a share before closing at $439.88.

Apple shares slid 12.4 per cent on Thursday – their biggest percentage drop since late September, 2008 – as disappointing holiday-period iPhone sales reinforced fears the company is losing its dominance in smartphones.

Apple shipped a record 47.8 million iPhones in the December quarter, up 29 per cent from a year earlier. But that lagged the 50 million that analysts on average had projected.

"They make great products, expensive products, but as a value investor I'm interested in the unloved stocks, just not the recently unloved ones," Ms. Forrest said.

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Apple's reign as largest company by market value began in the last week of January 2012, when it surpassed Exxon.

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