Tech wrap: Apple’s valuation flirts with Exxon’s

July 20, 2011

Apple shares neared a record $400, a day after the world’s most valuable technology company posted blockbuster results and triggered a spate of brokerage upgrades. Apple’s climb brought the maker of the iPhone and iPad within shouting distance of Exxon Mobil’s market value of more than $400 billion despite the oil and gas producer raking in more than four times Apple’s annual revenue.

“We expect Apple will become the largest market cap company on the planet when the stock hits approximately $445, which is only about 13 percent away from aftermarket levels,” said Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall, based on the assumption that Exxon shares remain flat. Apple shares rose to a high of $405 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

Intel posted second-quarter revenue above expectations, defying investors’ concerns about slowing personal computer sales. Intel’s revenue in the June quarter was $13.1 billion, up 22 percent over the year-ago period and¬† above the $12.83 billion expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

EBay reported better-than-expected quarterly results as the company’s main online Marketplace business showed signs of a turnaround and its PayPal unit continued to grow quickly. EBay said second-quarter net income was $283.4 million, or 22 cents per share. That compares to net income of $412 million, or 31 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Apple updated its MacBook Air and Mac mini with next-generation processors and operating systems. The new MacBook Air went on sale starting at $999, with the latest generation of Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, the operating system Lion, and a backlit keyboard. The Mac mini was priced at $599, delivering up to twice the processor and graphics performance of the previous generation, the company said.

Samsung launched a thinner and lighter version of its Galaxy tablet. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 inch is an upgraded version of the 7-inch introduced in October. Priced from $500 onwards in the U.S. market, the same as Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad, it faces tough me-too competition from more than 100 devices, mostly running Google’s Android operating system.

Samsung poached a second employee from Research In Motion in a month, setting back the BlackBerry maker as it struggles to regain its stride. Ryan Bidan, senior product manager for RIM’s PlayBook tablet computer, left for a job as director of product marketing for Samsung Telecommunications America, according to his profile on professional networking site LinkedIn. said that it had licensed thousands of television shows from CBS, adding content to help the largest Internet retailer compete with giant video streaming company Netflix. The nonexclusive deal adds TV series that include “Frasier” and “Cheers,” along with the “Star Trek” franchise, to Amazon’s video streaming service.

New software for screening travelers at U.S. airports will do away with naked images, addressing a major public concern, the Transportation Security Administration said. Software upgrades to the 241 millimeter wave body-scanning machines, made by L-3 Communications, will be deployed over the next several months in the 40 airports where they are used, the TSA said.

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