Apple beats Alphabet to become world's biggest firm again

Apple has regained its crown as the world's most valuable company, knocking Alphabet back down to second place after the latter briefly toppled it from the top spot.

The parent company of Google enjoyed a brief moment in the sun on Tuesday, but lasted only 24 hours before fluctuating share prices buoyed Apple's market valuation.

Early Tuesday morning, Alphabet's quarterly results revealed a market valuation of $549 billion, surpassing Apple's total of $534 billion for the first time since the iPhone-maker's stratospheric financial success.

This quarter marks the first results released since Alphabet was created, when Google divided up its various businesses into a new structure under the parent company.

However, while the group's financial results spurred a brief spike in stock market value, the company took a hit on Wednesday, closing the day with shares down five per cent.

Apple, meanwhile, climbed two per cent in the same period, pushing it back to the top of the pile.

02/02/2016: Alphabet takes a bite out of Apple to become world's most valuable company

Google owner Alphabet has knocked Apple off the top spot as the most valuable company in the world with its latest quarterly results.

The company is now worth $549 billion, compared to Apple's $534 billion, despite the latter once again reporting record profits in the most recent quarter.

Alphabet's core business, Google, which includes YouTube, Android, Maps and cloud services, was the most profitable with a revenue of $21.2 billion and an operating profit margin of 31.9 per cent, compared to 25 per cent for Alphabet overall.

Breaking this revenue figure down, Ruth Page, CFO and SVP of Alphabet, told investors: "Google Sites revenue was $14.9 billion in the quarter, up 20% year over year ... [which] reflects substantial strength in Mobile Search due to ongoing improvement in ad formats and delivery," according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha.

YouTube revenue was $4.1 billion for the quarter, an increase of seven per cent year-on year. According to Page, this was generated primarily by video advertising across TrueView and Google Preferred.

Other revenue for Google, which includes Play, Cloud and Apps, came in at $2.1 billion, up 24 per cent year-on-year.

Aside from Google, Alphabet comprises smart home division Nest, life extension project Calico, moonshot business Google X, high-speed internet infrastructure business Fiber, investment arm Google Capital, and future cities division Sidewalk.

In the company's earnings report, these are lumped together in "Other Bets", obscuring quite how well each one is doing. Over all, while revenue was up 37 per cent for this segment, standing at $448 million, it ultimately operated at a loss of 3.1 billion.

Nevertheless, the business' final quarter results - the first since it restructured from Google into Alphabet - surpassed Wall Street expectations, sending shares up almost five per cent in after hours trading, according to Reuters.

Josh Olson, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co, told Bloomberg: "Alphabet's core business looks very healthy. That's going to build investors' confidence about the other bets they've been making."

Jane McCallion
Deputy Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's deputy editor, specializing in cloud computing, cyber security, data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Deputy Editor, she held the role of Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialise in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.