Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, has surpassed US-based technology giant Apple to become the world’s most valued company with a market capitalisation of almost $2.43 trillion.

Aramco, which is listed on the Saudi stock exchange, Tadawul, closed almost 1% lower on Wednesday at 45.5 Saudi riyals ($12.13) a share, with a market capitalisation of 9.1 trillion riyals, while Apple’s share price dropped more than 5% to $146.5 a share.

The iPhone manufacturer’s market value has dipped to $2.37 trillion this year, despite Apple improving profitability during the first quarter.

However, the US technology giant has warned that China’s Covid-19 lockdown and supply chain issues could impact its second-quarter 2022 results.

Aramco’s share price has risen by almost 30% since the start of this year, while Apple’s stock price has gone down by more than 15%.

Results expected in May

The Saudi giant is set within days to unveil its first-quarter results, with sustained high oil prices expected to further boost its earnings to record levels.

In March, Aramco pledged to ramp up capital expenditure to between $40 billion and $50 billion in 2022 on the back of last year’s $110 billion net profit, itself double that of 2020.

The energy giant is expected to increase its spending incrementally until the middle of this decade.

Aramco’s average hydrocarbon production last year was 12.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, including 9.2 million barrels per day of oil.

The company plans to raise its crude output capacity to a “maximum sustainable” level of 13 million bpd by 2027 and is spending billions of dollars to swiftly achieve this goal.

Profit leaps

Aramco’s 2021 $110 billion net profit — up from $49 billion the previous year — came as oil prices surged against the backdrop of rebounding demand after the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With an increase in production and commodity prices, most analysts expect the company’s net profit will be even higher in 2022.

Three years ago, Aramco raised $29.4 billion in its initial public offering and the kingdom’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has announced plans to sell more Aramco shares. In February, Saudi Arabia transferred 4% of the company’s shares, worth $80 billion, to the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

Aramco’s free cash flow was $107.5 billion last year, compared with $49.1 billion in 2020.