Ahead of the release of the new iPhone family, Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) market cap pushed above $834 billion, after rising 56% in the past year. Another 20% rise will put the figure over the magic $1 trillion mark. If the new iPhone is a success, it could get part way there in a matter of days. When it issues its next earnings report, if iPhone sales surge, it might well close the gap toward that $1 trillion number.
The nose-bleed level at which Apple’s shares trade could not have been rationally expected a year ago. Apple’s earnings over the past three quarters have been good, but not spectacular. It has had some minor setbacks. The Apple Watch, its first foray into wearable technology, has been a disappointment. Investors remain concerned about the fact that Apple still is in fifth place in market share in China, the world’s largest wireless market, by far.
Apple’s rise is also unprecedented when compared to the other U.S. tech titans, which presumably means Apple’s fortunes are considered the best of any in the group. Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) shares are up only 20% in the past year to put its market cap in second place at $654 billion. Microsoft Corp.’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) are higher by 33% to take its market cap to $575 billion. Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ: FB) are up by 37% in the past year to get its market cap to $504 billion. Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) are higher by 29% to $469 billion.
Some stock market experts would argue that none of these large companies have earned the sharp rise in their stock prices. If that argument is true, then Apple investors are the greatest offenders. How can the company’s stock rise by over 50% unless its prospects are nearly beyond calculation? What happened to the success of Samsung, Apple’s greatest enemy, or the China smartphone leaders Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi. These three are supposed to expand beyond China and challenge Apple in other large global markets. If that works, Apple’s efforts to expand its own iPhone footprint may be hampered.
Apple’s stock has been driven so high based on anticipation as much as results. This is always the case when stocks surge higher than may be rational. None of that may keep Apple from its $1 trillion market cap mark. Many investors are just too giddy.