Apple set to become world's biggest firm
Apple, the technology firm, is on the way to becoming the most valuable firm in the world by 2012, according to analysts.
Sales of its products, including the latest generation of iPads, iPods, iPhones and Mac laptops and computers, are expected to propel it even beyond the value of the current top company, Exxon, which is now worth €309bn.
Strong sales, particularly in the US, have led experts to predict a 32pc rise in Apple's share price over the next year, which would take its value to €317bn.
Providing the shares of Exxon, an oil firm, do not rise beyond that, Apple's foretold success would make it the biggest in the world for the first time.
A technology firm at the top of the corporate tree would be a change from the norm. The list of the world's most valuable firms is traditionally dominated by those in the mining, banking or retail sectors.
However, in the last three months of 2010, Apple sold almost 4 million Mac computers, over 14 million iPhones, over 9 million iPods and over 4 million of the early incarnations of the iPad tablet computer.
Pete Najarian, of Trademonster.com, a stock market website, said: "Analysts are as giddy as you can be but Apple just keeps surpassing those numbers."