Microsoft had been previous record holder Apple became the most valuable company of all time on August 20, surpassing the mark set by Microsoft in 1999.

Shares in iPad and iPhone tech giant Apple hit a high of $664.75 in morning trading on Monday, valuing the company at over $619 billion. The price topped the $618.9 billion Microsoft achieved in December 1999.

(In early trading on Tuesday, it further surged to $673.20 on Nasdaq).

In January, Apple surpassed oil firm Exxon Mobil to become the most valuable company on the planet. It now surpasses Exxon’s $405.6 billion market value by more than $213 billion.

The company’s shares dropped dramatically last month as sales figures disappointed analysts even as profits rose 21per cent year-on-year to $8.8 billion. But they have since soared back on rumours that the firm is about to launch a smaller version of its top-selling iPad and is close to making a new push in the TV market, which has long been a target for Chief Executive Tim Cook.

The company’s share price was $378.55 on October 5, 2011, the day Steve Jobs, co-founder and the driving force behind the firm’s famous products, died. Since his death, Apple has gone on to report record sales and its share price has soared.

Apple’s landmark high comes as Facebook’s shares hit new lows on Monday, sinking to less than half their initial public offering price and halving the fortune of founder Mark Zuckerberg.

By mid-morning, Facebook’s shares had hit a new low of $18.75, less than half the $38 they were sold for in May amid the heavily hyped stock sale in recent history. The slump has knocked nearly $10 billion off the value of Mr. Zuckerberg’s stake in the firm, now worth about $9.5 billion

Facebook’s latest share slide comes after a lock-up period expired, which allows some of its early investors to sell more of their shares. The expiration increased the pool of available shares by 60 per cent and confirmed analysts’ fears that it might lead to more falls in Facebook’s share price. Some of Silicon Valley’s prominent investors are among those now able to reduce their holdings.

Facebook’s share price faces a series of other challenges in the coming months as more lock-up periods expire and staff are allowed to sell shares. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2012

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