You’ve probably heard that Apple is the world’s most valuable company. But how do we know that, exactly? It’s actually a simple calculation: multiply the number of Apple’s shares outstanding by its current share price. Apple currently has approximately 940 million shares outstanding and its current share price is around $450. So that works out to 940,000,000 x $450 = $423 billion. This value is called a company’s market capitalization. Exxon Mobil is the world’s second largest company with a market capitalization of $400 billion.
Why is it worth comparing companies by their market capitalization and not just their share price? A good example is Microsoft and IBM. Microsoft’s share price trades for $35. IBM’s is much higher at $208 per share. However, Microsoft’s total value is $290 billion vs. IBM at $230 billion. The reason is simple: Microsoft has nearly 8 times as many shares outstanding.
When we talk about comic values we always think in per copy terms and never about an issue’s total value. Thanks to the CGC Census we can easily calculate an issue’s total value: just multiply the number of copies at each grade by the value of each grade.
This approach puts each title on a level playing field. X-Men #1 in the 7.5 grade has recently traded for around $7,000. A copy of Hulk #1 in the same grade trades for close to $19,000. One may be tempted to conclude that Hulk #1 is worth more than X-Men #1. But this conclusion misses the fact that there are 51 7.5 X-Men #1s in the CGC Census and only 14 copies of Hulk #1 in the 7.5 grade registered. In aggregate, X-Men #1 is worth 150% more than Hulk #1:
We can have some fun with this and tie each character or group’s value to the value of the issue in which they made their first appearance:
Clearly it’s no contest! Spider-Man reigns supreme in the Marvel Universe!