Apple, manufacturers of iphones and ipads, became the world’s first $700bn company on Tuesday night – making the company worth more than Nigeria’s GDP of $521.8b
The rapid growth in China and hopes for bumper sales of its forthcoming Apple Watch pushed the American based company to new heights.
The shares rose 1.9pc to $122.02 at the close in New York, giving the electronics valuing the company at $710.7bn (£465.8bn).
The valuation also means Apple is almost twice as large as oil major Exxon Mobil, the world’s second largest company by market capitalisation. Exxon has seen its value tumble to $385.4bn since last summer amid falling oil prices.
Strong demand for Apple’s larger-screened iPhones helped the company to make a record $18bn in the final three months of the year – or $8.3m an hour.
Its highly-anticipated Apple watch, which will enable users to send and receive messages and emails, as well as track their fitness, will start to ship in April.
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said he was confident that the company would continue to grow at a rapid pace.
“We don’t believe in such laws as laws of large numbers. This is sort of an old dogma that was cooked up by somebody,” he said at a conference on Tuesday.
“Steve [Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and former chief executive] did a lot of things for us over many years but one of the things he ingrained in us is that putting limits on your thinking is never good.”
Analysts said the company would continue to grow from strength to strength. “Given Apple’s powerful iPhone cycle, a big 4G ramp in China and the upcoming launch of Apple Watch in April, we believe there is still plenty to look forward to during this transformational cycle,” said Brian White, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald.
Earlier this month, Apple revealed plans to borrow billions more dollars, despite its huge cash reserves of around $150bn. Apple sold bonds worth 1.25 billion Swiss francs on Tuesday, as the company took advantage of ultra-borrowing costs.
Mr Cook insisted on Tuesday that Apple was not a cash hoarder. He said the company would give back the cash it didn’t need and announce details of a capital return programme in April.
“By and large, my view is for cash that we don’t need, with some level of buffer, we want to give it back,” he said. “It may come across that we are but we are not hoarders.”
The company plans to spend $850m on a solar farm in Monterey County, California, that it claims will generate enough power for its retail stores and other operations in the area.