(Updates with closing share prices.)
Apple’s shares tumbled after the company reported its slowest sales gain since 2009 and its weakest profit growth in a decade. The company’s stock fell $$63.51, or more than 12 percent, to $450.50.
As a result, Apple’s market value, the largest in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index at $423.78 billion is slipping. If the trend continues, Apple could slip below Exxon Mobil’s market value of $416.5 billion. Exxon’s shares rose 65 cents to $91.35.
Apple joins other companies – such as Wal-Mart, Microsoft and General Electric — whose stock performance suffered after they reached a market value of more than $500 billion.
The decline of Apple’s stock comes after the company late yesterday reported sales slowed amid rising competition in the phone market from companies such as Samsung. Sales of new products such as the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini seem to be declining faster after their launches than the sales of earlier products did.
Apple has lost about $175 billion in market share since September. Of greater concern to Apple investors than having Exxon reclaim the most valuable company status is what Wednesday’s financial results mean for Apple in the post-Steve Jobs era.
As Bloomberg points out, the numbers indicate that the explosive growth the company enjoyed since Jobs introduced the iPhone six years ago is waning. Samsung and others have caught up on the touch-screen technology that Apple once dominated, and Apple may no longer be able to command premium prices for its new products.
Since Jobs’ death from cancer in 2011 investors have worried that the company may lose its innovative spark. While Apple has introduced new generations of existing products, it hasn’t rolled out gadgets that will revolutionize consumer habits the way the iPhone and iPad did.