(eli5) Why do some of the world’s largest Oil producers (Exxon, Shell, BP) have such a low stock price compared to Big Tech (Amazon, Google, Apple) despite having similar or better revenue?


Pretty much just this question. Why does Shell have a low stock price compared to Apple despite having more revenue?

In: Economics

Stockprices are supposes to include a reflection of potential future earnings. The prospects of oil vs tech are quite different.

Stock price depends on number of shares issued to determine the value of the company. A company with few shares will likely have a high stock price, but may still be of lower value.

Exxon has 8 billion shares over all while Amazon has just under 1 billion. So over the years exxon has created more shares which waters down the overall value of the stock so that more people can afford to buy individual shares. These days nearly all platforms allow you to buy fractional shares so it really is not a big deal any longer. If you remember back a bit Tesla did a 5 way stock split which increased the number of shares 5x. So if you owned 1 share pre split you now have 5 shares post split but at 1/5 the pre split value.

Stock price isn’t an indication of a company’s worth. Market cap is. Market cap is Outstanding Shares multiplied by stock price.

A company that has 100 outstanding shares valued at $1 each, has a market cap of $100.

A company who has a stock price of $100 per share, but only has 1 share outstanding has a market cap of $100.

In this scenario, both companies are valued the same, despite the disparity in stock price.

Oil companies have a much less valuable product (oil) than Amazon/Google/Apple’s product (data).

First off share, price is a matter of market cap (total value of company) divided by number of shares. So two companies with identical market cap can have vastly different share prices based on how many shares they have outstanding. There is no set number companies issue at their IPO, and then they can do stock splits, buy back shares, have secondary offerings, etc. that all change the number of shares they have over time. Amazon could do a 100:1 split tomorrow and have a share price of $32 but it would change nothing of the operations or value of the company.

And share price valuations are typically based on profitability/expected future profitability. Oil companies may have higher revenue, but they also have much greater expenses. As a result, extracting and selling oil has lower profit margins most of the time (that changes when oil prices skyrocket, as the costs to locate, extract, ship, refine, etc. don’t vary much compared to the volatility of oil prices). And the writing is on the the wall for oil producers, as renewable energy sources take off, the rise of electric cars, etc. suggest that oil companies are not in a high growth industry.

Tech companies typically have much higher profit margins because it’s easier to scale software or web services than oil production. And tech companies are still innovating, growing new product segments, seeing continued high growth in existing markets, that suggest growth in profitability in the future.

The profit margins on gas are really terrible. Those gas companies make their fortunes off of shear volume. Tech companies have pretty high returns.

Because stock price is not based on now revenue, it’s based on future revenue. Look at Apple vs. Shell in 2030 and 2040, and it’s not wrong.