Consumer Electronics

Apple Could Be America's First Company Worth $2 Trillion

Douglas A. McIntyre

Apple Inc. (NYSE: AAPL) shares have risen to an all-time high of $300, up almost 50% in six months. That puts its market capitalization at $1.3 trillion. Many analysts believe the shares will go higher. One expert says its valuation will hit $1.6 trillion soon. Several factors could push that number to $2 trillion, well above any U.S. company in history.

Apple already has surpassed analyst price targets of $275 to $300. Carefully followed Wedbush analyst Dan Ives has lifted his target price to $350, almost 20% more than its current price. His reasons are mostly the same as those that could move Apple’s stock even higher over the course of 2020.

The first support for a major surge in Apple’s value is that it will launch at least five versions of an iPhone 12 later this year. It probably will have the widest range of prices of any iPhone in history, which means it could appeal to consumers willing to buy an iPhone at anywhere from $500 to $1,200. The new models are expected to have a highly anticipated laser-guided camera, OLED displays, a faster chip and a longer battery life. More important than these, some versions of the iPhone 12 will be able to connect to the new 5G networks.

The importance of the new 5G networks cannot be underestimated. Connection speeds to networks could be as much as 10 times as fast as current 4G networks. These networks have begun to be deployed in the United States and some countries around the world. That means Apple can expect strong demand for the iPhone 12 in a number of markets, including China, the world’s largest.

5G does not just mean faster download speeds for files like high-definition movies. The connection speeds could also be used for navigation of autonomous cars and might replace cable and internet WiFi products in some homes and businesses. The historic peak of quarterly iPhone sales was just short of 80 million in the first quarter of 2017. A 5G iPhone could cause consumer demand that would blow through that level.

Apple has had recent success with its smartwatch, iPad and Mac products. The demand for these may continue to grow, to some extent because of 5G deployment. However, they are only modest contributors to Apple’s revenue. Apple absolutely will need another business to catapult revenue above historic highs. That will have to be its services business, which is currently its most rapidly growing one.

In its most recently reported quarter, Apple’s services revenue rose 18% to $12.5 billion. The services business is now 20% of total revenue, and that ratio will grow. Services include the app store, the storage iCloud business, Apple Pay and Apple music. The newest service offering is Apple TV+, which competes with Amazon’s Prime video streaming service, Netflix and new services, led by Disney’s streaming media product. The arena is crowded, but Apple has a huge war chest of cash, which gives it an important advantage. Netflix is a $20 billion revenue business with over 155 million subscribers. Apple’s streaming business does not need to get that large for Apple TV+ to be a huge success financially.

Apple has to clear several hurdles to reach a $2 trillion valuation. One contributor to that will have to be an ongoing rise in the overall stock market. At the same time, if it misses any of the higher hurdles, its stock may not move above $300 a share in the foreseeable future. However, Apple has cleared hurdles recently in ways that much of Wall Street did not expect. That trend could continue throughout the current year.

Finally, Apple has something no other company has, which is its tremendous brand, currently the most valuable brand in the world.