Exxon Mobil Barely Holds Market Cap Lead Over Microsoft

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Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) has barely held its market cap lead over two tech giants, Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL). Oil prices are sinking the world’s largest oil company, which is also the second largest company in the United States based on revenue. Recent earnings have bolstered the market values of both Microsoft and Alphabet.

Exxon Mobil’s market cap is second among U.S. publicly traded companies at $404 billion. It is well shy of leader Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), which has a market cap of $672 billion. Apple announces earnings next week, which almost certainly will drive that figure up or down.

Microsoft and Alphabet already have released their quarterly numbers. Microsoft’s revenue was $20.3 billion and net income $4.6 billion. Cloud revenue was the focus of earnings. It rose 8% to $5.9 billion. Microsoft shares jumped 10% on the news to nearly $53. The old-line software company, which many investors said would never recover from its focus on operating systems, has proven what that impression is worth.

Alphabet, formerly known as Google, posted a 20% revenue improvement to $16.5 billion, as well as net income of $2.7 billion. Anxiety about a slowdown in the search industry as consumers move to portable devices turned out to be wrong. Google is successfully migrating its search functions to smartphones and related devices, and it has maintained, if not increased, its lead over rivals. Alphabet’s stock rose 8% on the good news to $702.

The Alphabet and Microsoft figures, along with those from Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), pushed the Nasdaq higher, as optimism about entire tech industry, even in a slow global economy, improved.

Exxon has almost nothing to recommend it as a growth business. Its share price is down 10% this year. Oil prices have undermined the yield of its exploration business and probably damaged its margins on refining. And oil prices are expected to remain low, along with gas. Other oil service and oil companies have begun to lay off large numbers of their staffs, as they prepare for what may be years of undermined earnings.

If the current trends in oil and tech remain as they are now, Exxon will find itself moving further down the list of market cap leaders.

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