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Company Profiles

American firms dominate EY audit of most valuable companies

Consultancy firm Ernst & Young has ranked the world's most valuable companies and there was one clear winner: the US. Eight of the top 10 firms were American. Their total value is measured in the trillions.

Apple Logo in New York

Apple is worth more than half a trillion dollars by stock market capitalization.

American companies have dominated a consultancy firm's ranking of the world's 100 most valuable companies, with the tech behemoth Apple taking the top spot.

Auditor Ernst & Young (EY) pegged Apple's value at $560 billion (410 billion euros) at the end of June in terms of stock market capitalization, a measure that multiplies a company's current stock price with the number of shares in circulation.

Exxon Mobil came in a distant second behind the iPhone and iPad maker, with an overall value of $432 billion, according to the study EY presented on Wednesday in Frankfurt.

The cumulative value of all 100 companies on the list has risen 22 percent in the last year and a half to a whopping $15.6 trillion.

Of those 100 companies, 46 on the list were American.

Strong showing for Germany too

Only two non-US firms made it into the top 10, including Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, ranked eighth, and Swiss-based pharmaceutical firm Roche, in tenth place.

Ernst & Young's trade expert Thomas Harms

Ernst & Young's trade expert Thomas Harms says German companies are well positioned for growth.

The most valuable German firm was Volkswagen, ranked 55th globally and valued at $123 billion. After the auto maker came chemicals and pharmaceuticals maker Bayer in 59th place, and engineering giant Siemens, ranked 60th.

EY saw strong prospects for German companies' growth in value.

"German companies made serious efforts during the crisis years to rework their structures, continued to develop their product lines, and they have an enormous capacity for innovation," said EY partner Thomas Harms.

Easy money gives stock market a boost

Huge amounts of money have been invested on the stock market in recent years due to the US Federal Reserve's policy of quantitative easing, which saw the bank spend hundreds of billions of dollars on government and corporate bonds bought from institutional investors on secondary bond markets. The Fed's action flooded money into the financial system.

The sellers of those bonds - pension funds, for instance - needed to find uses for all that cash. With the Fed's bond-buying program keeping interest rates very low, investors avoided bonds and sought other investments.

Ben Bernanke, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve

Ben Bernanke, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, introduced the Fed's 'quantitative easing' policy in 2008.

That flooded money into the stock market, driving share prices to all-time highs. The Fed hoped profit-taking by investors would create a "wealth effect," resulting in new business investment and more consumption, and restore GDP growth in the recession-plagued economy that followed the 2008 global financial crisis.

Economists have been divided about whether quantitative easing has been the best way to reinvigorate the US economy after the crisis, but some argue the policy has supported strong prices on the stock market.

jz/cjc (dpa, Reuters)

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