01/24/2012 05:28 EST | Updated 03/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Apple ranks as world's most valuable firm

Investors welcomed Apple's record earnings late Tuesday by pushing the company's shares up eight per cent early Wednesday morning, moving it ahead of Exxon as the world's most valuable company.

Apple Inc. was set to open North American trading worth $422 billion after the company reported first quarter earnings Tuesday of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 US per share, and revenue of $46.33 billion.

Analysts had predicted the world's largest technology company would report $10.04 per share and revenue of $38.92 billion.

The profit number was up by 118 per cent from $6 billion, or $6.43 per share, a year ago.

As expected, Apple also saw massive sales of its new iPhone 4S, launched in mid-October, with total iPhone sales of 37 million, even higher than the 30 to 32 million expected.

The result may make Apple the world's largest maker of smartphones. Samsung Electronics, which held that position for most of last year, has said it expects to report shipping about 35 million smartphones in the October to December quarter.

Demand was so strong that consumers pelted Apple’s Beijing flagship store with eggs on Jan. 13, the first day the 4S went on sale there, when it didn't open as scheduled.

Sales of iPad top estimates

IPad sales were 15.4 million, compared with expectations for 13.6 million.

It was the first full quarter without the leadership of co-founder Steve Jobs, who died on Oct. 5.