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I've just read http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-09/apple-brand-value-at-153-billion-overtakes-google-for-top-spot.html and it says Apple's brand value is $153.3 billion and Google's is $111.5 billion.

I wonder how do they get those numbers? From what I know Google is $170 billion http://www.google.com/finance?q=goog and Apple is $313 billion http://www.google.com/finance?q=aapl.

So basically my question is how exactly do we rank how "rich" a company is?

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Matt explains the study numbers in his answer, but those are the valuation of the brand, not the value of the company or how "rich" the company is.

Presuming that you're asking the value of the company, the usual way for a publicly traded company to be valued is by the market capitalization (1). Market capitalization is a fairly simple measure, basically the total value of all the shares of stock in that company.

Number of Shares * Value of Shares = Market Cap

You can find the market cap for any publicly traded company on any of the usual finance sites like Google Finance or Yahoo Finance.

If by rich you mean the total value of assets (assets being all property, including cash, real property, equipment, and licenses) a company owns, that information is included in a publicly traded company's quarterly SEC filing and investor releases, but isn't usually listed on the popular finance sites.
An example can be seen at Duke Energy's Investor Relation Site (the same information can be found for all companies on EDGAR, the SEC's search tool). If you open the most recent 8-K (quarterly filing), and go to page 8, you can see that they have $33B+ in assets, and a high level breakdown of those. Note that the numbers are given in millions of dollars

For a privately held company this information may or may not be available and you'd have to track it down if it is available.

I picked Duke Energy because it's the first thing that popped into my mind. I have no affiliation with Duke, and I don't directly own any of their stock.

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  • how do we track the total value of assets a public company owns if we can't find it on Google Finance / Yahoo Finance?
    – Pacerier
    May 17, 2011 at 7:31
  • @Pacerier You can usually find it on a company's investor relations site, see the example. You can also find it through EDGAR (the SEC's online search tool).
    – C. Ross
    May 17, 2011 at 12:26
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Those rankings in particular that you cite are compiled by Millward Brown and the methodology is explained like this:

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