Great excitement in the papers today at the prospects of Apple overtaking Exxon as the largest public company in America, after its latest quarterly results are announced tonight.
Much of this is hysteria since while its market capitalisation may be soaring, Apple is still a comparative minnow in terms of revenues and profits.
Yet it’s a great turnaround story with the company’s market value now $247bn (Microsoft is at $219bn), compared with just $2bn when Steve Jobs returned in 1997 and set off the great drive that brought the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Undoubtedly the iPhone and iPad still have enormous potential, as the consumer increasingly demands mobile connectivity from their digital devices. Apple will get another boost to its iPhone sales in January when Verizon, the largest network in the States, joins AT&T as an iPhone retailer.
But perhaps Jobs’s most remarkable achievement, beyond even the pod phone and pad, was to stash away $50bn to see the company through the tough times, money that in the event wasn’t required. Shame he couldn’t have had a word with Gordon Brown.
Now the financial community will be looking to see if some of that $50 bn will be used to produce Apple’s first ever dividend.