Is Apple the biggest company ever?

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Many news reports have recently cited Apple as the “biggest company ever,” or “in history,” or whatever phrasing they want to use. As of August 20th 2012, the company was valued at $623.5 billion, which is the highest value ever seen by a US based company. Their profit growth has outpaced their share increase, which means even though they have more shareholders amongst which to distribute earnings, the profits are outgrowing that number so that everyone is earning even more. And the market does not seem to be losing faith, only indicating expectation of further growth based on a trust in the company’s fundamentals and leadership.

But is Apple the biggest company ever? Some claim this value does not account for inflation, and doing so would bring a historic value of Microsoft, or possibly even IBM, into the lead. Microsoft’s peak market share value accounting for inflation was about $856 billion, clearly greater than the $623.5 billion Apple currently accounts for, so it’s hard to legitimately make the claim Apple is the biggest company in history.

Of course, none of this is questioning is intended to belittle anything Apple has done. Their company has experienced tremendous success and continued growth, and it is very possible they could take the crown for the highest valued company in history.

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