Apple became the first publicly traded company to close a trading day with a $3 trillion market value, marking another milestone for a technology juggernaut that has reshaped society with a line-up of products that churn out eye-popping profits.
Apple shares closed up 2.3% at $193.97 Friday, bringing its market value to $3.04 trillion. Apple is one of a handful of technology companies, including Microsoft and chipmaker Nvidia, that helped drive the S&P 500 to a gain of nearly 16% in the first half of the year.
The 47-year-old company co-founded by Silicon Valley legend Steve Jobs had briefly eclipsed a $3 trillion market value on back-to-back days in January 2022, but couldn’t hold on by the time the market closed. Instead, Apple’s stock sunk into a prolonged descent that pushed its market value briefly below $2 trillion earlier this year amid a slowdown in growth and investor jitters about rising interest rates that affected the entire tech sector.
Although the significance of reaching a $3 trillion market value is largely symbolic, its magnitude is still breathtaking.
Consider, for instance, that $3 trillion could buy nearly 9 million homes in the U.S., based on the average sales price during the past year as calculated by Zillow. It could also buy the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world with plenty of change to spare. If $3 trillion were distributed equally to every person in the United States, each person would receive about $9,000.
It took Apple less than two years to close with a $3 trillion market value after topping $2 trillion for the first time in August 2021, which occurred about two years after the Cupertino, California, company reached $1 trillion for the first time.
Apple makes so much money that it can afford to pay $105 billion annually in investor dividends and repurchases of its own stock — and still be left with nearly $56 billion in cash at the end of its last fiscal quarter.
The rest of Apple’s revenue flows in from other products such as the Macintosh computer, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods and a services division that includes music and video streaming, warranty programs, fees collected through the iPhone app store and advertising commissions that Google pays to be the default search engine on the iPhone.
Although most of Apple’s innovations were hatched while Jobs was running the company, most of its wealth has been created under the reign of its current CEO, Tim Cook, who took over as CEO shortly before Jobs died in October 2011. When Jobs passed the baton to Cook, Apple’s market value stood at $350 billion.
The Trillion-Dollar Club
Apple first became the world’s most valuable stock in 2011, when its market cap was under $340 billion and it comprised about 3.3% of the S&P 500. Since then, it has rarely forfeit that title. It first reached $1 trillion in value in mid-2018, and it achieved a $2 trillion valuation in August 2020, making it the first US company to surpass that level, though Saudi Aramco was the first $2 trillion company overall.
Companies of this size are few and far between, and in the US the club is populated only by other megacap technology and internet stocks, including Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and chipmaker Nvidia Corp., which became the first trillion-dollar chipmaker earlier this year. Microsoft Corp is the only other US stock with a valuation above $2 trillion.
While Apple is not the biggest gainer of the year — Nvidia, Meta Platforms Inc., and Tesla Inc. have more than doubled — its size gives it a massive influence over markets, accounting for 7.7% of the weight of the S&P 500 Index.
Still, the milestone doesn’t mean smooth sailing for Apple from here. The stock trades at about 30 times forward earnings, and while this is down from a 2020 peak above 35, it remains well above its 10-year average multiple of 17.9.
Despite Citi’s new bull call, analysts have been pulling back on the stock amid the year’s rally. Fewer than 70% of the firms tracked by Bloomberg recommend buying the stock, the lowest such ratio among the trillion-dollar stocks. Furthermore, its consensus rating — a proxy for its ratio of buy, hold, and sell ratings — is near its lowest since November 2020. A recent downgrade from UBS was the latest example of weaker sentiment.
Furthermore, Apple is above the average price target, suggesting analysts aren’t anticipating much in the way of additional gains from current levels.