Samsung now worth $200 billion, but market-cap gap with Apple persists

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The world’s top maker of televisions and mobile phones has jumped over the $200 billion in market capitalization for the first time. Of course, the excitement surrounding Korea’s Samsung Electronics is centered on the mobile phone business. Strong sales of its Galaxy drove its record profit last quarter. Bloomberg collates a few interesting factoids on Samsung:

Samsung, the world’s 15th-biggest company by market value as of yesterday and the first in South Korea to surpass the $200 billion mark, has jumped 40 percent this year. Its market capitalization exceeds the $166 billion combined value of all shares listed in Poland and is almost twice as big as Ireland’s $107 billion stock market, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In fact, Samsung’s emergence as a credible challenger to Apple has corresponded with a sharp move higher for the company’s shares. Since late August 2011, when Samsung Electronics’ shares were hammered by a major victory in the internecine court warfare with the iPhone maker, Samsung share prices have rebounded smartly. (The Apple/Samsung court battles continue, by the way.)

Since the start of September 2011, Samsung’s market cap has nearly doubled. Apple’s has posted a respectable 44% increase, off a much larger base, and even with the weakness in Apple’s shares lately, its $515 billion market cap—the world’s largest—continues to dwarf Samsung. Above, you can see the market cap race over the last few years, through yesterday. Back in 2008-09, these guys were pretty much neck-and-neck in terms of market cap.