Apple loses its crown as the world's most valuable company

The stock market added insult to the deep wounds endured by Apple after its results disappointed investors this week, driving down its share price to the point where it lost its crown as the world's most valuable company.

Apple's stock, which has been retreating ever since its earnings report late on Wednesday, reignited concerns about future growth as its iPhones face competition from Samsung and its Galaxy range of smartphones, fell by about 2 per cent to $441.3 at one point during early trading yesterday.

That gave the Californian tech giant a market capitalisation of $416bn (£263.2bn), lower than Exxon Mobil, the oil giant which at the time was up 13 cents at $91.48, thus boasting a market value of $417bn.

The two companies rivalled each other for the title of most valuable in the world through the summer of 2011, when Apple first overtook Exxon. But the oil giant has lagged behind since early 2012, as Apple continued to gain ground.

The tide now appears to be turning, as Apple struggles to convince the market that it is taking on the likes of Samsung, which earlier this week posted a record fourth-quarter profit, powered in part by higher sales of smartphones.